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First Officer Troy Nøstdal
First Officer Troy Nøstdal

Ask the pilot: What is the true speed of an airplane?

Why do we sometimes see more than one speed on our screens? The best people to answer your questions about the wonders of aviation are SAS pilots.

First Officer Troy Nøstdal

Age: 27
Career: Troy started his career in aircraft cleaning and catering before his three-year pilot education in Tromsø. He flew Boeing 737s for almost two years prior to joining SAS as a First Officer in 2014.
Home base: OSL
Flies: Boeing 737
Flight hours: 3,300

Information about outside temperatures and altitude is often displayed on the onboard entertainment screens during air travel. Ground speeds and true air speeds are also provided. But what is the difference between these speeds?

Kristian

Hi Kristian,

Thanks for your question. True air speed and ground speed are two different ways of establishing the speed of the airplane. The true air speed is the speed the aircraft is traveling through the air and the atmosphere. It depends on the amount of thrust we apply to the engines, the outside temperature and pressure. The airplane’s ground speed is the speed that we are traveling at related to the ground and it is affected by the wind we are experiencing. The ground speed will be higher than true air speed if the wind blows in the direction that the aircraft is traveling, and lower when the plane travels against the wind.  

First Officer Troy Nøstdal

If you have a question about aviation, send it to askthepilot@scandinaviantraveler.com and watch for the answer in an upcoming issue.

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