Sandyb123 From UK - Scotland, joined Oct 2007, 1166 posts, RR: 0 Posted (5 years 6 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 6498 times:
Most jet aircraft fly most efficiently fly above 30,000 ft and have a celling around 41,000 ft. What would happen if an aircraft was to fly over it's service celling? I have read this statement:
Quote: The Next Geneartion Boing 737 is certified to fly up to 41,000 feet -- but in theory, it could go higher if they really wanted to. Military and experimental planes can fly much higher (85-96K). What is really weird is that it seems like the limiting factor at high altitudes is that the air becomes too thin to run the jet engines -- not too thin to continue to provide lift.
HOOB747 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 475 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 6 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 6481 times:
Not sure if the higher altitude affects the jet engines, but I'm sure the thinner air at such altitudes affects the control surfaces and their interaction with the atmosphere. Meaning, the higher the elevation, the lower the effectiveness of the control surfaces.
FighterPilot From Canada, joined Jun 2005, 1451 posts, RR: 21
Reply 4, posted (5 years 6 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 6443 times:
Have to be careful here, service ceiling and certified ceiling are two different things.
A service ceiling is the height an aircraft can get to and only produce 100FPM. Where as a certified ceiling is the ceiling that the manufacturers have certified it for. So theoretically yes, a plane can climb over both its service and certified ceilings. Not advisable but possible.
SeaBosDca From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 6592 posts, RR: 7
Reply 5, posted (5 years 6 months 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 6324 times:
Every now and then rumors pop up around here about military variants doing things the civilian aircraft are not certified to do. The most persistent is a rumor that E-4Bs (military 747-200 variants) have climbed as high as 51,000 feet, well above the 747's ceiling of FL450. I've also seen it rumored that non-US operators have had their 757 variants as high as 47,000 feet.
For civilian aircraft, the limiting factor is often the length of time it would take the aircraft to descend to 10,000 feet in the event of a depressurization.
Either that, or the airplane wouldn't be able to descend to a breathable altitude fast enough in case of a depressurization.
The absolute limit is going to be the point at which the low speed limit (not enough air going over the wing to keep the airplane at altitude) and the high speed limit (mach effects) converge. Above that, you simply cannot fly anymore. As one nears that point (known as coffin corner), the range of allowable airspeeds becomes very small, too small for safety in the opinion of the regulators. So they can cap the certified altitude well below that in order to provide an adequate margin for error.
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I think you'll find that B747s on short ferry flights (light loaded) will readily go above FL410. Even the 747-400/ER version. They have massive climb performance in this sort of configuration. But what happens in the event of depressurisation?
That said, I find the article pretty pointless. Comparing military aircraft designed for extreme high altitudes against civil subsonic airliners isn't valid.
Unless you are talking Concorde - because it has achieved FL687 (normal ceiling FL600). Concorde also was able to descend very quickly in comparison with other airliners if needed.