-- JetBlue says it logged a world performance record with one of its Embraer E190 jets on Thursday, flying that type of aircraft farther than any other airline has ever done before.
The record flight came Thursday as the E190 was being returned to JetBlue from the McCain-Palin campaign, which had chartered the aircraft. The plane had been ferrying vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin around the USA, and earlier this week returned Palin and her family to their home state of Alaska.
As part of the effort to return the E190 to the airline, the aircraft flew a repositioning flight from Anchorage to Buffalo before continuing on to New York JFK – JetBlue's home base.
In a message to employees on the company's intranet, JetBlue says "aircraft 239, the McCain-Palin charter jet, set a new record by jetting from Anchorage, to Buffalo nonstop. At 2,694 nautical miles, this was the longest E190 flight ever operated by any airline on the planet!"
"Flight 4500 took off from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport at 11:23 a.m. (Alaska time) and landed some 6 hours and 11 minutes later, at 9:34 p.m. (ET), at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. This ultra-long segment was the first leg of the aircraft's return to JFK and its eventual return to scheduled service in the coming days," JetBlue adds on its intranet.
Putting the Anchorage-Buffalo flight into perspective, JetBlue notes that its longest regularly scheduled flight on an E190 is the 1,476-mile route between Boston and Austin, Texas.
The E190, a midsize jet that seats 100 passengers, typically flies short to medium-length routes for the carrier. JetBlue uses its large Airbus A320 jets for cross-country and other long-haul routes.
JetBlue notes the record-setting E190 flight even trumped the longest regularly scheduled route in the airline's entire network — the 2,341-mile route between Oakland and Boston that JetBlue flies with its bigger A320 aircraft.
So, how did JetBlue manage to make such a long flight with the E190? JetBlue credited "a strong tailwind" and the fact that plane was not weighed down by passengers and luggage.
Next up for the record-setting E190? JetBlue spokesman Sebastian White say its fuselage will be stripped of the McCain-Palin logo and eventually put back into regular service.