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WHo Decides The Altitude?  
User currently offlineF.pier From Italy, joined Aug 2000, 1531 posts, RR: 9
Posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 3258 times:

Is the captain to ask the FL he likes or is the control tower to tell him the FL to reach?

I realized that Ryanair always flies very high. It always happens that for flights like BGY-HHN (about 500 km) you fly FL 370.

I always see all other airplanes under us and never above, doesn't matter my Ryanair route.

Do you know why?

Thank you

4 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlinePihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 5174 posts, RR: 78
Reply 1, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 3244 times:
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Quoting F.pier (Thread starter):
Is the captain to ask the FL he likes or is the control tower to tell him the FL to reach?

The captain, with the knowledge of his/her aircraft weight and performance, plus the winds aloft, plus the temperature will ask for a flight level that would make the flight optimum.
btw, the control tower is just for airport movements. After the initial climb, we generally communicate with an en-route center.

Quoting F.pier (Thread starter):
I realized that Ryanair always flies very high.

Their aircraft are in general lighter than those of an established airline : light seats, minimum galleys...then very little luggage and no post or cargo. All these parameters allow for a higher altitude capability.
Finally, on a short flight, theory shows that the minimum fuel burn is for the shortest time in cruise so that the profile is closest to a straight climb immediately followed by a straight descent. Then your answer will be that they optimise their flights as much as possible for fuel economy reasons.
Hope this helps.

Contrail designer
User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6210 posts, RR: 11
Reply 2, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 3162 times:

Whoever files the flight plan (i.e. a dispatcher) will file a certain altitude. ATC will either approve the assigned altitude or modify it. Then it becomes a negotiation between the pilot and the controller. The pilot is trying to save money and time, while the controller is trying to manage the flow of traffic through his airspace. Based on operational necessity, the pilot may request another altitude other than which has been assigned, and if the controller is able to approve it with respect to other traffic, ATC will usually approve it.

Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineTb727 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 2063 posts, RR: 12
Reply 3, posted (8 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 3083 times:

Where I work the "Flight Followers" are supposed to file the first flight of the day but most of us don't let them. Not being true dispatchers they like to think an airplane can straight to 410, only like 1 or 2 of our planes could do that on a good day. I generally file conservatively and pick an altitude that I can go straight up to like in the low-30's if I am given it right away if heavy. Once I burn off some fuel, I look for the best winds and pop up to wherever they are at if needed. It kills me when pilots try and take a heavy plane up to 410 and struggle the last 5-6000'. Drives me nuts!

As far as distance and altitude goes, the rule of thumb is for a flight of a distance under 300 miles, take 10% of the distance and file that and round up to the right direction of flight, i.e., MKE-YIP is 198NM so I would file for FL210 for eastbound. Nowadays though, I don't think much, I just use fltplan.com and that does a pretty good job of picking altitudes and giving options, what an awesome website!

Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6170 posts, RR: 13
Reply 4, posted (8 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3034 times:

Quoting Tb727 (Reply 3):
Not being true dispatchers they like to think an airplane can straight to 410, only like 1 or 2 of our planes could do that on a good day.

Since the planning software I use is not a true dispatcher, it likes to plan for max altitude on a short flight. Of course, since I am a dispatcher, I end up overriding that 'optimal' altitude with something more manageable.

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