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What’s the slowest a plane can fly? © Getty Images

What’s the slowest a plane can fly?

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Aeroplanes, or airplanes if you're American, need to maintain a certain speed to allow flight.

Asked by: Lucie Coltman, Loughborough

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Technically this is the so-called ‘stall speed’, where air passes over the wings fast enough to sustain altitude, and for small planes this can be less than 50km/h (31mph). But at such low speeds, the aircraft is easily destabilised, and could fail to leave the runway. So for safety and stability at take-off, commercial airliners must achieve substantially higher speeds exceeding around 250km/h (155mph).


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Authors

Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.

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