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Rockliffe

How high do I fly?

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OK, I'm sure this is a question I should know the answer to, but to be honest, there are quite a few questions that I should know the answer to but don't! So, when I'm creating a flightplan, how do I calculate the best, or optimum, altitude to fly. Help as always appreciated, cheers fellas.


Howard
P3Dv4, Asus Z170-A MB, i7-6700 Skylake @ 4.5ghz, Asus GTX1080ti 11Gb GPU, 16gb RAM@3200Mhz, SSD/1Tb+P3D.v4.4, SSD/500Gb+OS, Western Digital 1Tb HD + Storage, Ocz 750 PSU, Philips BDM4350UC 43" 4K IPS, 2 x 17" Dell @ 1920x1200. PFC Yoke, Warthog throttle system, MFG Crosswind rudder pedals, Saitek switch and radio panels, VRinsight Boeing 2 MCP.



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Mmmm, sure, but is there not some kind of calculation that determines the optimal height. eg, if I'm flying from point A to point B and the distance is only 80 miles then how high do I fly? It is unlikely to be above 20,000ft so...?? Should it be 15,000ft or maybe 12,000ft? Sure, if it's 1,000 miles I can safely say I'll fly at flight level 320 or am I missing something?


Howard
P3Dv4, Asus Z170-A MB, i7-6700 Skylake @ 4.5ghz, Asus GTX1080ti 11Gb GPU, 16gb RAM@3200Mhz, SSD/1Tb+P3D.v4.4, SSD/500Gb+OS, Western Digital 1Tb HD + Storage, Ocz 750 PSU, Philips BDM4350UC 43" 4K IPS, 2 x 17" Dell @ 1920x1200. PFC Yoke, Warthog throttle system, MFG Crosswind rudder pedals, Saitek switch and radio panels, VRinsight Boeing 2 MCP.



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Howard,

 

It also depends on the type of aircraft being flow. Lets take a piper seminole for example (I am very fimiliar with this twin from real world experience), I am going to fly as high as practical up to around 10,000ft since it is not pressurized. Take into account that I am IFR and going eastbound this will get us 9k, 7k, or 5k. Then I am going look at the winds to see which is the most favorable, Lets say 5 and 7k are favorable. I will end up flying at 7k if the route is long enough or 5k if it is a short hop.

 

With jets, the higher you are the better fuel economy youy will get. I am not sure if there is a forumla for optimum climb times but I typically start my flight planning at FL280 since I fly short regional jet ops and work up from there paying attention to winds/icing/direction of travel and so on.


Tom Bergman | Founder - Hemisphere Virtual Airlines | www.hphvirtual.com

"I just wanna tell you both: good luck. We're all counting on you."
 

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Thanks for the reply Tom. I should actually have mentioned that I am talking about flying liners rather than GA. While I understand with GA I don't see an issue, it's just when creating an actual flightplan beforehand with say the NGX. So from what you've said, there doesn't seem to be any particular formula for determining the altitude with the ascent/descent rate and distance. It seems odd though... I mean the height to fly will be different on a 100 mile flight than a 400 mile flight, and how would you determine that at the flightplanning stage? If it was a 1000 miles, as I said, you could safely create a plan cruising at FL320 or similar, couldn't you? Or am I simply making things more complicated than they really are?


Howard
P3Dv4, Asus Z170-A MB, i7-6700 Skylake @ 4.5ghz, Asus GTX1080ti 11Gb GPU, 16gb RAM@3200Mhz, SSD/1Tb+P3D.v4.4, SSD/500Gb+OS, Western Digital 1Tb HD + Storage, Ocz 750 PSU, Philips BDM4350UC 43" 4K IPS, 2 x 17" Dell @ 1920x1200. PFC Yoke, Warthog throttle system, MFG Crosswind rudder pedals, Saitek switch and radio panels, VRinsight Boeing 2 MCP.



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Hi!

 

I'm only a sim flyer so I can't really give you info exactly like in the real world but I can mention a few things I do which help me choose a cruise altitude.

 

1. Find a real world flightplan for the flight (if you're interested in that option):

 

Good sites are:

www.Flightaware.com

www.Simroutes.com (for the US mainly)

The Euroute database (for Europe mainly)

The Avsim flightplan forum.

 

In many cases these will have real world cruise altitudes/flight levels used by real airlines on these flights. From my experience at least in Europe some of them go suprisingly high even on shorter sectors (like Ryanair 737's flying at FL380). They also sometimes post step climbs for medium and long-haul flights too which is good.

 

2. If I'm not using a real flightplan I just pick anything. Normally for 737 flights of an hour or two this is between FL300 and FL400. I think FL310,330,350,370 etc. are for West-East and FL300,320,340,360 etc. are for East-West but I'm kinda unsure. If it's a shorter flight like London-Manchester or London-Paris then I use the 1:3 rule. You multiply by 3 so say getting to 30,000ft will take 30x3 which is about 90 or roughly 100 miles. So 100 miles to get up there and 100 miles in descent would probably be fine for a 280 mile trip or something. It's nice to be in cruise for a little time rather than just going up or down for the whole flight!

 

Anyway I'm no real pilot so I'm sure others can give better info but thought I'd mention the couple of simming things I do!

 

Many thanks,

 

Pierre

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Everything in the jet world is based on fuel economy. With that said, with real world ops, what you file may not be what you are assigned. If your flying the NGX you have GPS and won't be paying much attention to the MEA for navigation reception. GPS gives you more flexibility for altitudes since you can also go "off-route" as in off of a jetway, this allows for more aircraft to fly the same altitude. If your taking a jet route that is highly populated ATC may give you a different altitude for traffic avoidance.

 

I do not have the NGX (please don't hate me) but those that do can chime in on climb performance and I am sure there's not too much of a time difference from climbing extra 4 or 5 thousand feet. Keep in mind that with pax your also looking for the best ride so if FL360 offers the best ride and FL380 the best economy by a few minutes, you may file 360 to give the guys in the back paying the fuel bill the best ride.

 

Hope this also helps.

 

You also are not alone in 121 operations, you always will have a dispatcher to figure this stuff out.


Tom Bergman | Founder - Hemisphere Virtual Airlines | www.hphvirtual.com

"I just wanna tell you both: good luck. We're all counting on you."
 

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80 flying miles in the 737 NG... I probably wouldn't go much higher than 14,000... and if you're full of pax you probably won't go higher than 10,000


|Ryan Butterworth|

| i7 4790K@4.4GHz | 32GB RAM | EVGA GTX 1080Ti | ASUS Z97-Pro | 1TB 860 Evo | 500GB 840 Evo Win10 Pro | 1TB Samsung 7200rpm | Seasonic X750W |

 

 

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80 flying miles in the 737 NG... I probably wouldn't go much higher than 14,000... and if you're full of pax you probably won't go higher than 10,000

 

I would be above 10k at least, that way I can go fast.


Tom Bergman | Founder - Hemisphere Virtual Airlines | www.hphvirtual.com

"I just wanna tell you both: good luck. We're all counting on you."
 

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I think Tom's replies are probobly the best if you are "hardcore" (ie trying for realistic ops). Also, yes you would have a pre made flight plan in the RW.

 

For me, its Flightaware. I did some short hops in the new Avro RJ today and this is how they went:

For EWR to AVP in the Avro RJ, I used 6k for the 80 mile cruise. There was no Flightaware route of a comparabe aircraft so i had to flat out guess.

For the flight from AVP to BOS (FL180) then BOS to EWR (FL160) I looked up some flights on flightaware and went with those.

 

For longer flights I also take into account the GW. if you've flown your addon aircraft at different weights, then you have an idea of what time of climb performance you should expect. A fully loaded (addon aircraft) usually sucks wind as you get near it's service ceiling. So in some instances, a multi step cruise plan would help as well


"I am the Master of the Fist!" -Akuma
 

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I would be above 10k at least, that way I can go fast.

 

Yep I agree... that's why I wrote 10... the magic number in the US...

 

Since Howard is flying in the UK and I don't know their rules... I'd still think 100-140 for a cruise altitude.


|Ryan Butterworth|

| i7 4790K@4.4GHz | 32GB RAM | EVGA GTX 1080Ti | ASUS Z97-Pro | 1TB 860 Evo | 500GB 840 Evo Win10 Pro | 1TB Samsung 7200rpm | Seasonic X750W |

 

 

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I used to fly BWI-RIC, which is about 120 mi...generally topped off at 20,000 feet in an A320. Any higher was just plain useless--I once tried 30,000 and was told to descend before I reached it. For 80 mi I would recommend around 15,000-18,000.


Total Distance Flown: 65,141.138 Nautical Miles (In reality-------I don't have THAT much time to waste on FSX).

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Rockliffe, if your flying the NGX and program your route including the SID and expected STAR, when you go to set the cruise altitude, the FMC will display the optimal cruise altitude based on the distance of your route, weight of the a/c at the time, etc. You can then use that as a guide.


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Thanks for all the replies guys, that's been very helpful...


Howard
P3Dv4, Asus Z170-A MB, i7-6700 Skylake @ 4.5ghz, Asus GTX1080ti 11Gb GPU, 16gb RAM@3200Mhz, SSD/1Tb+P3D.v4.4, SSD/500Gb+OS, Western Digital 1Tb HD + Storage, Ocz 750 PSU, Philips BDM4350UC 43" 4K IPS, 2 x 17" Dell @ 1920x1200. PFC Yoke, Warthog throttle system, MFG Crosswind rudder pedals, Saitek switch and radio panels, VRinsight Boeing 2 MCP.



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Yep I agree... that's why I wrote 10... the magic number in the US...

 

Since Howard is flying in the UK and I don't know their rules... I'd still think 100-140 for a cruise altitude.

 

If you're out in the sticks with no one around you can always ask ATC for "high speed" below 10k, the 747s always ask for it (and they usually get it) because full manoeuvring margin is only available at or above Vref+100, which can be above 250kts for a heavily loaded 747.


Iain H Chan (See profile for my PC specs)

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