Commercial air travel has become a common part of our everyday lives.
From the moment we get off the ground until we land at our destination, we rely on airplanes to transport us from place to place.
Commercial aircraft are large passenger jets that carry hundreds or even thousands of passengers.
They are also known as wide body aircraft because they have a wider fuselage than other types of planes.
They can reach altitudes of over 50,000 feet (15,240 meters).
The highest altitude ever reached was around 62,800 feet (19,330 meters), which was achieved by a Boeing 747 named ‘Dream Chaser’ during its test flight in 2015.
The average commercial airliner is capable of flying for about eight hours before refueling. Some long-haul flights may last up to 12 hours.
The first commercial airline was established in 1914 and since then many airlines have been created. But how high do commercial planes fly?
We’ll be answering this question and looking at the reasons behind it in this article.
So if you’re curious about how high commercial planes fly and why, read on (see also “How To Fly An RC Plane“)!
How High Do Commercial Planes Fly?
The short answer to the question of how high planes fly is relatively simple.
The average cruising altitude of a commercial passenger airplane is between 30,000 and 42,000 ft.
There are a number of reasons why this is the case. We’ll now take a look at some of these reasons.
Reasons Why Planes Fly At High Altitude
One of the main reasons why planes fly higher than normal altitude is fuel efficiency.
This means that the plane uses less fuel when it flies above the clouds. It’s much easier to keep an engine running at low temperatures.
This makes it more efficient for the pilot to use less fuel. When the plane is flying lower, the temperature inside the cabin is usually warmer.
This causes the engines to run hotter. This leads to increased fuel consumption.
Lower Temperature Cabin Air
Another reason why planes fly at higher altitudes is due to the temperature of the air inside the cabin.
If the air outside the plane is very cold, the air inside the cabin will be colder too. This can cause problems with heating systems.
If the temperature of the air is warm, however, the air inside the plane will be cooler. This allows the heating system to work better.
Another factor that affects the height of the plane is cabin pressure.
As the plane climbs, the cabin pressure decreases. This is done so that the oxygen levels in the cabin remain constant.
When the cabin pressure drops, the amount of oxygen available to the passengers increases. This helps them stay awake and alert.
Air Traffic Control
It’s important to note that there is no single set standard for what the ideal altitude should be.
There are different guidelines depending on where the plane is going.
For example, if the plane is going from New York to London, it would normally be flying at around 35,000 ft.
However, if the plane is heading towards Paris, it could be flying at around 40,000 ft.
These guidelines are set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO.
Why Do Airlines Fly Above Clouds?
As we mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons that planes fly at higher altitudes is because they need to conserve fuel.
Flying below the clouds saves fuel. But why exactly does this happen? Let’s take a closer look.
Clouds Can Be Dangerous
As we’ve already seen, the weather conditions affect the height of the plane. In fact, the weather conditions impact everything else as well.
For example, if the cloud cover is thick enough, then visibility is reduced.
This means that the pilots have trouble seeing other aircraft. They also have difficulty spotting landmasses.
In addition to being dangerous, clouds can also pose a threat to the safety of the plane.
Weather Conditions Affect Visibility
The visibility of the sky depends on several factors. One of those factors is the type of clouds present.
Light clouds tend to be thinner than heavy ones. This means that light clouds don’t block out as much sunlight as heavier ones do.
Light clouds also tend to be shorter-lived. The sun heats up the surface of the earth, which creates convection currents.
These currents create clouds. But these clouds don’t last long. So when the clouds disappear, the sun has time to heat up the ground again.
This process repeats itself over and over until the clouds form once again.
Heavy clouds, on the other hand, are thicker. They tend to last longer than lighter clouds.
They also block more sunlight. This means that the temperatures beneath the clouds are lower than the temperatures above them.
So even though the clouds may not be visible, the temperatures are still low enough to make the flight hazardous.
The next thing to consider is the density of the air. It’s true that the air gets thinner as you go higher into the atmosphere.
However, the difference isn’t huge. The density of the air actually increases as the altitude increases.
And the reason for this is simple: temperature.
As the temperature goes down, the molecules become less active. This makes the air denser.
The density of the air also changes with the speed of the wind.
If the wind is strong, then the air will get pushed away from the surface of the earth.
This causes the air to thin out. But if the wind is weak, then the air won’t move very far.
The average altitude of a commercial passenger plane is between 30,000 and 42,000 ft.
Planes flying at this altitude use less fuel than those flying lower.
However, the weather conditions play an important role in determining whether the plane flies high or low.
If the clouds are thick and heavy, then the plane needs to stay closer to the ground.
We hope that you found our article about how high commercial airplanes fly helpful!