A Gulfstream G650ER business jet owned by Qatar Executive has smashed an 11-year-old world circumnavigation speed record via the North and South Poles by five hours and 52 minutes.
The 46 hour, 39 minute and 38 second record for the 22,422nm journey eclipsed the old polar navigation record of 53 hours and 32 minutes set by Captain Aziz Ojjeh in a TAG Aviation Bombardier Global XRS in 2008.
The G650ER from Qatar Executive, a business subsidiary of Doha-based Qatar Airways and the world’s largest owner of the ultra-long haul jets, was flown by a team of eight, including British pilot and Action Aviation chairman Hamish Harding and United States astronaut Terry Virts, a former commander of the International Space Station.
The jet flew via the poles at an average speed of 465 knots (535 mph or 861 km/h).
The #OneMoreOrbit departed @NASAKennedy Space Center on July 9th at 09:32 EDT, same time as 50 years ago on July 16 Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin lifted off in Saturn V. The #OneMoreOrbit team landed back at KSC 11/07/19 at 12:12:23 UTC. pic.twitter.com/D59BhuPHEb
— One More Orbit (@One_More_Orbit) July 14, 2019
As well as the earth circumnavigation record, the team will be claiming 12 more speed records from the flight, including the fastest time ever achieved flying from the North Pole to the South Pole of 23 hours and 30 minutes. Polish flight attendant, Magdalena Starowicz and Norwegian Jannicke Mikkelson, the payload specialist and satellite live-streamer on the flight, were also the first women in history to complete the polar circumnavigation of earth.
The record-breaking mission was called One More Orbit in honour of the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon in an Apollo 11 spacecraft on July 20, 1969 and the 500th anniversary of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first circling the planet by sailing ship. The flight broke both the Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and Guinness World record simultaneously.
— Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) July 14, 2019
— CNBC-TV18 (@CNBCTV18News) July 14, 2019
Captain Ojjeh never applied for a Guinness world record for his flight so the faster aerial circumnavigation of earth via both poles by Captain Walter Mullikin in a Pan Am Boeing 747SP in 1977 in 54 hours and seven minutes with three refuelling stops had stood for 42 years. The 747 averaged 423 knots (486 mph, or 783 km/h).
The G650ER began its flight on July 9 at 0932 local time from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shuttle landing facility at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida and covered a distance of 24,962 miles (40,172 km). It refuelled in Nur-sultan in Kazakhstan, Mauritius and Punta Arenas in Chile before touching down at 0812 on 11 July.
The One More Orbit’s flight team celebrated their record near the landing site at NASA with the support crew, families and executives from NASA and Qatar Airways including Qatar Airways chief executive, Akbar Al Baker.