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747sp 600 Ft/min Climb Rate At FL460  
User currently offlineSCAT15F From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 402 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 8451 times:

Was reading some Flight International (now Flightglobal) magazine archives and discovered that in testing, the 747sp demonstrated a climb rate of 600 ft/min at 46,000 ft (October 2, 1975 issue). In a 1976 issue (Jan 10) post certification, they mention that although the SP was to be certified for 45,100 ft, it had been flown at a 46,000 ft cruise altitude.

Furthermore, during the pre-service entry period, Boeing flew the 4th 747sp from NY to Tokyo with 200 passengers (setting a Westbound speed record of 13 hours, 33min and landing with 30K lbs of fuel remaining), The pilots were interviewed saying they had flown significant portions of the flight at 47,000 ft. (unfortunately and can't find the source for that quote anymore) However, that would seem to be confirmed by the following...

Another interesting article appeared in AWST May 5, 2012. The article discusses the P&W 747sp engine testbed as being ideal for testing private jet engines because of "its ability to cruise at 47,000 ft," but that regression analysis would be needed for simulated testing at 51,000 ft. My guess is newer engines like the PW4062 would give the SP testbed 51,000 ft cruise ability easily, though it would be cost prohibitive for Pratt.


Anyhow, how does a 600ft/min climb rate at FL460 compare with current private jets certified for 47,000-51,000 ft? (I am guessing it compares favorably, and the only reason the certified ceiling is 45,100 is to comply with rules for rapid descent with commercial passengers)

33 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLH707330 From United States of America, joined Jun 2012, 848 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 10 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 8155 times:

I read the same thing in an Airways article (July 2000 IIRC) about Pan Am's 747SP and how they routinely cruised at FL450. If the JT9Ds still have enough oomph to get 600 fpm at FL460, then I'm tempted to suspect that the problem is not with engine thrust, but with the coffin corner. Recall that that the wing was designed for the 747-100, which rarely made it past FL400 in normal service. If the low speed margin at light load climbs more quickly than the engines get hypoxia, then a set of 4062s (yes, cost prohibitive) might just get you to the coffin corner more quickly.

As to the limit, it does have to do with the descent. One reason the 748 is only certified for FL431 is that it's more slippery and cannot be put into brick mode as well as the earlier versions.


User currently offlineAR385 From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 6596 posts, RR: 35
Reply 2, posted (1 year 10 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 8125 times:
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A couple of times I flew at 45,000 on AR´s LV-OHV on the LIM-EZE portion of the MEX-LIM-EZE flight.

User currently offlineweb500sjc From United States of America, joined Sep 2009, 749 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (1 year 10 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 8090 times:
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There was a story in this month's (February 2013) issue of flying ,arising about someone in there youth and inexperience bringing a c0Cessna 152 to 18,300... I imagine that that would normally be a engine performance issue.


Boiler Up!
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17173 posts, RR: 66
Reply 4, posted (1 year 10 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 7799 times:

Quoting web500sjc (Reply 3):

There was a story in this month's (February 2013) issue of flying ,arising about someone in there youth and inexperience bringing a c0Cessna 152 to 18,300... I imagine that that would normally be a engine performance issue.

Time to lean. A lot! 



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlinerwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2412 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (1 year 10 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 7791 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting web500sjc (Reply 3):
There was a story in this month's (February 2013) issue of flying ,arising about someone in there youth and inexperience bringing a c0Cessna 152 to 18,300... I imagine that that would normally be a engine performance issue.

Not in the right mountain wave!   


User currently offlineMax Q From United States of America, joined May 2001, 4780 posts, RR: 19
Reply 6, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 7766 times:

What a magic machine the -SP was, if I ever win the lottery..


A 'mini 747' the very idea is outrageous and cool at the same time.


I flew on it once from Kai Tak to San Francisco on Pan Am in 1981, my first time to the USA.


An amazing experience on an amazing airline.



The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
User currently offlineMD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8508 posts, RR: 12
Reply 7, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 7609 times:

Quoting SCAT15F (Thread starter):
Anyhow, how does a 600ft/min climb rate at FL460 compare with current private jets certified for 47,000-51,000 ft?

Perhaps our resident Global Express and Citation X pilots can chime in on this one.

Quoting SCAT15F (Thread starter):
Furthermore, during the pre-service entry period, Boeing flew the 4th 747sp from NY to Tokyo with 200 passengers (setting a Westbound speed record of 13 hours, 33min and landing with 30K lbs of fuel remaining), The pilots were interviewed saying they had flown significant portions of the flight at 47,000 ft.

That would definitely be illegal. Perhaps possible performance-wise but a huge bust of the FAA regs. Then again, way out over the ocean who would know they were at FL470 instead of FL450? If it was pre-service then it was before 1976.


User currently offlineprebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6539 posts, RR: 54
Reply 8, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 7570 times:

Quoting SCAT15F (Thread starter):
...the 747sp demonstrated a climb rate of 600 ft/min at 46,000 ft...

Climb rate has everything to do with actual weight. No airliner has a single climb rate at a given altitude. They all have a climb rate at a given altitude at a given weight.

The SP is wing wise (with flaps retracted) and engine wise pretty identical to a classic 747, and MTOW is also not that much different. Therefore when heavy it struggles much the same during initial climb as a classic. There is no way a heavy SP will even reach anywhere near FL460.

The SP traded in structure weight and payload for fuel capacity. Therefore it can be much lighter than a classic when fuel tanks are running low, and that gives unusual altitude performance. Basiccally the SP is a classic 747 converted to "more flying fuel tank" and less "people mover".

Quoting SCAT15F (Thread starter):
...the SP was to be certified for 45,100 ft...

Max altitude certification is all about cabin pressure differential. If you "allow" a lower cabin pressure than what is considered minimum for comfort (usually 8,000 ft), then you can go higher than certified max altitude when weight allows.

When light on fuel and payload, then all airliners can physically go way beyond max certified altitude. The SP just more so than others since it's fuel part of MTOW is greater.

Quoting LH707330 (Reply 1):
One reason the 748 is only certified for FL431 is that it's more slippery and cannot be put into brick mode as well as the earlier versions.

I assume that you mean "ability to descend to safe altitude fast enough in case of cabin decompression". Then "more slippery" can be translated to "less efficient spoilers".



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlinestratosphere From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 1653 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 7502 times:

Quoting Max Q (Reply 6):
What a magic machine the -SP was, if I ever win the lottery..


A 'mini 747' the very idea is outrageous and cool at the same time.

I have to agree Max.. You know there are quite a few A netters who think the SP is ugly..Guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder as I always thought it was a most cool looking a/c. A baby 47..I wish I could have had a chance to fly on one..I flew the -100 and 200 and 400 tho..



NWA THE TRUE EVIL EMPIRE
User currently offlineSCAT15F From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 402 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 7456 times:

Quoting prebennorholm (Reply 8):
The SP is wing wise (with flaps retracted) and engine wise pretty identical to a classic 747, and MTOW is also not that much different. Therefore when heavy it struggles much the same during initial climb as a classic. There is no way a heavy SP will even reach anywhere near FL460.

Well, the SP MTOW is over 120,000 lbs lighter across the board than the 747 classics and its OEW is 60,000 lbs lighter. I think that is pretty significant.

747SP MTOW options range from 630,000 lbs to 696,000 lbs, with the 660,000 lb option being the most typical configuration. 747 classic MTOW options range from 750,000 lbs to 833,000 lbs, with the 833K option being most popular.

747SP OEW comes in around 326,000 lb with the 747 classics at around 385,000 lbs. Again, a pretty significant difference. Plus engine thrust options for the SP were available up to 53,000 lbs, with 54,750-56,000 for the heaviest classics.

So SP wing loading and thrust to weight ratio are significantly superior across the board compared to a classic.


User currently offlineMax Q From United States of America, joined May 2001, 4780 posts, RR: 19
Reply 11, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 6 days ago) and read 7438 times:

Quoting MD-90 (Reply 7):

Quoting SCAT15F (Thread starter):
Furthermore, during the pre-service entry period, Boeing flew the 4th 747sp from NY to Tokyo with 200 passengers (setting a Westbound speed record of 13 hours, 33min and landing with 30K lbs of fuel remaining), The pilots were interviewed saying they had flown significant portions of the flight at 47,000 ft.

That would definitely be illegal. Perhaps possible performance-wise but a huge bust of the FAA regs. Then again, way out over the ocean who would know they were at FL470 instead of FL450? If it was pre-service then it was before 1976.

Nothing illegal about that whatsoever. I guess you missed the 'preservice' part of that article.


Essentially, the Aircraft would have been operating on an experimental certificate and not under commercial airline regulations.


Certified in Airline Ops would have been an entirely different story.



The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
User currently offlineSpeedbird128 From Pitcairn Islands, joined Oct 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 7388 times:

Quoting MD-90 (Reply 7):
Perhaps our resident Global Express and Citation X pilots can chime in on this one.

Whilst not a pilot, my fastest climb to cruise that I consciously remember, was GLF5, and after departure straight out it was passing F430 at 60NM and I could see that contrail already in the climb... It was well over 1500fpm still passing F430 if I recall... Granted it wasn't a 5000nm sector, but was awesome to see...

I used to have the SA 747SP's fly JNB-DUR-JNB at F430 or F450... and it was simply a case of "Because I can".



A306, A313, A319, A320, A321, A332, A343, A345, A346 A388, AC90, B06, B722, B732, B733, B735, B738, B744, B762, B772, B7
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 7268 times:

Quoting web500sjc (Reply 3):
8 2013 13:13:02 your local timeFri Feb 8 2013 13:13:02 UTC (2 days 37 minutes ago) and read 818 times:

There was a story in this month's (February 2013) issue of flying ,arising about someone in there youth and inexperience bringing a c0Cessna 152 to 18,300... I imagine that that would normally be a engine performance issue.

I've had a 150 (not even a 152!) up to 14,500*

*on a cold winter morning (20 degrees farenheit), solo, with about hour of fuel on board 

EDIT: I suppose starting out at a field elevation of ~4,500 MSL might be considered cheating  Wink

[Edited 2013-02-10 13:58:41]


Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 14, posted (1 year 9 months 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 6513 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 13):
I suppose starting out at a field elevation of ~4,500 MSL might be considered cheating



I don't think so, you still have to climb that pig some 10,000 feet in order to get to that altitude.......but you were thinner then before the birth of your first born, correct?????  



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 5804 times:

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 14):
I don't think so, you still have to climb that pig some 10,000 feet in order to get to that altitude.......but you were thinner then before the birth of your first born, correct?????

Of course...I weighed about 150 back then in my college days   The particular 150 involved was also a pretty light one, IIRC empty weight was scaled at 960 lbs!  Wow! My instructor was also the flight club mechanic, so I helped him weigh her after the annual one year...



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offline26point2 From United States of America, joined Mar 2010, 856 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 5453 times:

Quoting MD-90 (Reply 7):
Perhaps our resident Global Express and Citation X pilots can chime in on this one.

I fly a Global 5000. Same as the Global Express only slightly lighter and as a result has better performance. Although the GLEX is certified to FL510 I have never been up there. We do climb at M0.82 straight to FL450 at max gross weight with a climb rate in excess of 1000 ft per min at level off. Above FL450 the plane begins to struggle in climb when heavy.

As mentioned weight is a big factor in climb performance at these altitudes...the standard and heavier Global Express cannot climb straight to FL450 at max gross weight...but as much as weight is a factor temperature is more of a factor. Standard temp at FL450 is -57C. Anything warmer than this considerably effects climb performance. This can be a factor when flight panning North Atlantic crossings as the temp is typically much warmer than standard at these Northern latitudes. Aircraft with marginal climb performance are often forced to fly at a lower altitude than otherwise.


User currently offlineSCAT15F From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 402 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 5330 times:

Are wing loading and excess thrust the factors that determine how wide the coffin corner is? Are there other factors as well?

User currently offlineLH707330 From United States of America, joined Jun 2012, 848 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 5322 times:

Quoting SCAT15F (Reply 17):
Are wing loading and excess thrust the factors that determine how wide the coffin corner is? Are there other factors as well?

Wing loading plays a role on the low end, while the high end is determined by mach buffet. At the low end, wing loading is one of a couple of factors, including wing shape (sweep, T/C, etc). Excess thrust just determines how quickly you can get up there....


User currently offlineDashTrash From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1563 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 5253 times:

I flew the Citation X for a while and took it to FL510 twice. I don't remember what rate of climb we holding getting up there because I was more concerned with mach number and AOA. I do remember it being anemic above 470.

The X was interesting. It was a dog low, below FL310. Especially with the anti-ice on. Heavy, it would climb in the 3000 fpm range to the 20's, the peter out until transitioning to mach. I think it's a combination of a big wing and high mach number we're transitioning to. Upon transitioning to mach, it starts climbing spiritedly again. Back into the 2500-3000 fpm range until hitting the high 30's, maybe even low 40s. This is of course dependent on weight. Most of the time dispatch would have us step climbing as we got lighter. In reality at MTOW you could go straight to FL410 rather than step. Upon level off, it would accelerate to 500-510 TAS until it burned off enough gas to creep up to 520 TAS, which is between .88-.92 dependent on OAT. If you were cruising at 410, and wanted 450, you could average better than 2000 fpm because you had a ton of speed available to burn while climbing. I''d usually select a 1000 fpm climb and wouldn't dip below .84 before level off. It had a lot of available energy.

FL510 was a little trickier in the X, but easily doable while light. I never went up there on a revenue flight, but did go to 470 with pax in the back at least once. To go to 510, you had to be light. I'd let it climb in vertical speed mode at about 500 fpm. Performance would start to taper off above 470, but you could ease it up there and still level off at .81-.83. You WOULD NOT accelerate to a higher mach number once you were that high. The airplane would stay at whatever mach number you had. It would not accelerate much in the descent either, until you hit 470, at which point it the mach number would start climbing rapidly.

The X is very much tailored to high speed cruise. The high altitude capability in my opinion was a byproduct of it. What amazed me the most is the available speed envelope in the airplane up high. It's been 12 years since I flew one, but I think we only had 20 or so knots between stall and overspeed in the Lear 25 at FL410. See the pic below, and there's at least 70 kts of wiggle room in the X. With bigger engines I bet the wing on the X will get you to FL600 or maybe higher.


I've put it on here before, but here's the view out the side at 51K.


User currently offlineSCAT15F From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 402 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 5195 times:

Quoting LH707330 (Reply 18):

Got it- thanks!


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5172 times:

Quoting SCAT15F (Reply 17):
Are wing loading and excess thrust the factors that determine how wide the coffin corner is? Are there other factors as well?

I would tend to think that the altitude limits in the 747sp are there because of the pressurization and flight deck emergency oxygen sytems mostly, and not an inability to climb any further or a dangerous narrowing of the flight envelope. The FAA has to guarantee that the plane is operated in an envelope where a safe descent can be made in the event of a rapid decompression down to a safe altitude, and at least one crew member can remain conscious to do the flying during that emergency descent  

BTW, "coffin corner" refers to a narrow spread in indicated airpseed between stalling speed and overspeed...I think the 747 is similar to the Citation X in that the Mmo is higher than in typical subsonic jets, which gives you more wiggle room in the flight envelope   It won't to M0.9 like the Citation X, but 747's have a pretty high Mmo (M0.86?).

While on the subject, how high does NASA's SOFIA typically cruise? I know that there's a reason they chose the 747sp, and one of the reasons might be to go higher...



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineSCAT15F From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 402 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5154 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 21):
It won't to M0.9 like the Citation X, but 747's have a pretty high Mmo (M0.86?).

I'm pretty sure Mmo for all the 747 models including the SP is Mach 0.92. Citation X is .92 as well, but the new parabolic winglets increase that to between .93 and .94 (to one-up the .925 G650 ...whatever)

According to FG the SP was flown to mach .98 in testing

As for SOFIA, the NASA documents I have seen say operational altitude range is 41,000 to 46,000 ft


User currently offlineMax Q From United States of America, joined May 2001, 4780 posts, RR: 19
Reply 23, posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5122 times:

The Concorde could go a lot higher than it's certificated maximum of FL600.


It was the need to get down in a depressurisation that 'limited' it to that altitude. In flight test it was taken as high
as 68000 feet and Mach 2.4.


In a great article written by an ex Concorde Pilot he states it was a shame they could not have gone higher as it would have cut the fuel burn significantly.



The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
User currently offlineMax Q From United States of America, joined May 2001, 4780 posts, RR: 19
Reply 24, posted (1 year 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 5039 times:

Quoting DashTrash (Reply 19):


I flew the Citation X for a while and took it to FL510 twice. I don't remember what rate of climb we holding getting up there because I was more concerned with mach number and AOA. I do remember it being anemic above 470.

The X was interesting. It was a dog low, below FL310. Especially with the anti-ice on. Heavy, it would climb in the 3000 fpm range to the 20's, the peter out until transitioning to mach. I think it's a combination of a big wing and high mach number we're transitioning to. Upon transitioning to mach, it starts climbing spiritedly again. Back into the 2500-3000 fpm range until hitting the high 30's, maybe even low 40s. This is of course dependent on weight. Most of the time dispatch would have us step climbing as we got lighter. In reality at MTOW you could go straight to FL410 rather than step. Upon level off, it would accelerate to 500-510 TAS until it burned off enough gas to creep up to 520 TAS, which is between .88-.92 dependent on OAT. If you were cruising at 410, and wanted 450, you could average better than 2000 fpm because you had a ton of speed available to burn while climbing. I''d usually select a 1000 fpm climb and wouldn't dip below .84 before level off. It had a lot of available energy.

FL510 was a little trickier in the X, but easily doable while light. I never went up there on a revenue flight, but did go to 470 with pax in the back at least once. To go to 510, you had to be light. I'd let it climb in vertical speed mode at about 500 fpm. Performance would start to taper off above 470, but you could ease it up there and still level off at .81-.83. You WOULD NOT accelerate to a higher mach number once you were that high. The airplane would stay at whatever mach number you had. It would not accelerate much in the descent either, until you hit 470, at which point it the mach number would start climbing rapidly.

The X is very much tailored to high speed cruise. The high altitude capability in my opinion was a byproduct of it. What amazed me the most is the available speed envelope in the airplane up high. It's been 12 years since I flew one, but I think we only had 20 or so knots between stall and overspeed in the Lear 25 at FL410. See the pic below, and there's at least 70 kts of wiggle room in the X. With bigger engines I bet the wing on the X will get you to FL600 or maybe higher.

Very, very interesting DT, the X sounds like a lot of fun. Did it handle as well as it flew fast ?



The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
25 Flyer732 : When I was a 747 loadmaster, I'd see typical cruise speeds of .85-.86 on occasion if we needed to make up time I'd see a .88 cruise.
26 SCAT15F : I'd be curious to see how the Lear 31A would do against the Citation X. Its slower on the top end, but its got a 20% higher thrust-to-weight ratio an
27 Post contains links and images dlednicer : NASA flies their 747SP, SOFIA, up to 45k' and this is with the aft cavity open, exposing the 100 inch telescope.
28 DashTrash : I don't think those winglets raise Mmo. They do help with fuel burn, but not certified top end. It handles like a slightly more stable Lear 25 with a
29 26point2 : What is the operational advantage to FL510 in a biz jet? I have often wondered this. Perhaps for fuel burn but TAS is lower up there...is the trade of
30 IAHFLYR : From what a friend tells me on their G550 flying from NRT-IAH being up high gives them enough gas to make it non-stop so that is a nice advantage for
31 Max Q : Getting above nearly all the weather but the biggest advantage is you can get above the worst headwinds of the jet stream.
32 Post contains images KELPkid : Direct routing...I challenge you to find two flights anywhere near each other at those altitudes
33 26point2 : Yes, I suppose.[Edited 2013-03-04 17:35:00]
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