President Joe Biden claimed Wednesday that commercial aircraft would soon be able to travel at speeds of up to 21,000 miles per hour.
“I tell the kids, the young people that work for me — I told my kids, when I go on college campuses, they’re going to see more change in the next 10 years than we’ve seen in the last 50 years,” Biden said during an address about his proposed infrastructure legislation. “We’re going to talk about commercial aircraft flying at subsonic speeds, supersonic speeds, be able to figuratively, if you may, if we decide to do it, be able to traverse the world in an hour, travel at 21,000 miles an hour.”
It was not clear what Biden meant by “figuratively.” The speed he suggested is roughly equivalent to Mach 28, which would make airlines capable of traversing the 2,400 miles between New York and Los Angeles in roughly seven minutes. The fastest commercial airliners presently travel at speeds of about 600 miles per hour, a little less than Mach 1.
Several companies do have plans in the works to increase top speeds to nearly 4,000 miles per hour, or Mach 5. Boeing announced plans to that effect in 2018. Florida-based Aerion announced similar plans last month for a Mach 4+ commercial airliner, which it said would be ready “before the end of the decade.”
Biden made a similar promise related to traveling by rail. “What we’re really doing is raising the bar on what we can imagine,” Biden said. “Imagine a world where you and your family can travel coast to coast, without a single tank of gas, or on a high-speed train close to as fast as you can go across the country in a plane.”