Flight altitude is one of the most important aviation parameters. In particular, the speed and fuel consumption depend on it. Sometimes the safety of flight depends on the choice of altitude. So, for example, pilots have to change the altitude with a sudden change in meteorological conditions, due to thick fog, dense clouds, a vast thunderstorm front or turbulent zone.
What should be the height of flight
Unlike the speed of the aircraft (when the faster, the better), the flight altitude should be optimal. And each type of aircraft has its own. No one will ever come to compare the heights on which fly, for example, sports, passenger or multipurpose combat aircraft. And yet there are record breakers here too.
The first flight altitude record was … three meters. It was at this altitude that the Wright Flyer plane of the Wilbur brothers and Orville Wright first appeared on December 17, 1903. After 74 years, on August 31, 1977, the Soviet test pilot Alexander Fedotov on a MiG-25 fighter set a world record of altitude – 37650 meters. To date, it remains the maximum altitude of a fighter’s flight.
At what height do passenger planes fly
Civil aircraft airplanes are by right the largest group of modern aircraft. According to data for 2015, there were 21,600 multi-seat flying vehicles in the world, of which a third – 7,400 – are large, wide-body passenger liners.
When determining the optimum flight altitude (echelon), the dispatcher or crew commander is guided by the following. As you know, the higher the altitude, the more air is discharged and the easier it is for the aircraft to fly – so it makes sense to climb higher. However, the wing of the aircraft needs a support, but at an extremely high altitude (for example, in the stratosphere), it is clearly not enough, and the car will start to “collapse”, and the engines stall.
The conclusion suggests itself: the commander (and today the on-board computer) chooses the “golden mean” – an ideal balance of frictional force and lift. As a result, each type of passenger airliners (taking into account weather conditions, technical characteristics, duration and direction of flight) has its optimum height.
Why do planes fly at an altitude of 10,000 meters?
In general, the altitude of the flight of civil aircraft varies from 10 to 12 thousand meters when flying to the west and from 9 to 11 thousand meters – to the east. 12 thousand meters is the maximum height for passenger aircraft, above which the engines begin to “suffocate” from lack of oxygen. Because of this, the height of 10,000 meters is considered the most optimal.
At what height fighters fly
High-altitude criteria for fighters are somewhat different, which is explained by their purpose: depending on the task assigned, combat operations take place at different heights. The technical equipment of modern fighters allows them to operate in the range of several tens of meters to tens of kilometers.
However, the exorbitant heights of the fighters are now “not in vogue”. And this has its own explanation. Modern air defense systems and missiles of air-to-air fighters are capable of destroying targets at any altitude. Therefore, the main problem for a fighter is to find and destroy an enemy before, and to remain unnoticed. The optimal altitude of the 5th generation fighter (practical ceiling) is 20,000 meters.