Matt D
Topic Author
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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 1999 6:00 am

Distance To Altitude

Fri May 25, 2001 5:41 am

Here's something I've often wondered. What is the typical ground distance covered that an airliner will travel to get from FL0 (ground level) to crusing altitude-say FL320 (32,000 feet)? Is it 40 miles? 50 miles? 75 miles? 100 miles? What about in reverse, on descent? How much ground distance will be covered starting with descent to zero AGL? I realize that there are certain variables involved, such as payload, a/c type, and whether or not the distance travelled is a straight line. But let's make it easy, and take a straight flight path.

Put another way, picture a triangle. The hypoteneuse is the flight path. Line X is altitude, from zero to 35,000 feet. Line Y is the ground distance. The intersection of the hypoteneuse and line X is FL350, level flight. The intersection of the hypoteneuse and line Y is the runway, and touchdown.

What is the typical distance of line Y?

RE: Distance To Altitude

Fri May 25, 2001 6:35 am

When I jumpsat a A340 from LAX to LHR, and we where just over half way to San Fransico when we where 34,000ish feet!
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RE: Distance To Altitude

Fri May 25, 2001 7:02 am

I think 6,730 feet equal 1 mile. Not to be exact but you ll need to look at conversion to find the exact.
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RE: Distance To Altitude

Fri May 25, 2001 7:06 am

The best answer is: it depends.

It depends on the plane.. there's a big difference between a 757 and an A340. Even regional aircraft don't climb the same.. a CRJ is very slow in the climb above 30,000 ft and can take 30+ minutes to get to 350 while a 328JET can climb at 6,000 ft per minute off the deck and can be in the 30's in 15-20 minutes.

It depends on the load.. obviously a light 757 is going to climb faster than a heavy one.

It depends on the temperature.. the warmer it is, typically the slower the climb.

It depends on the length of the flight.. On a short trip, it sometimes doesn't make sense to spend so much time climbing when you're going to spend even longer coming back down. On the other hand, turbojets burn less fuel higher up, so manufacturers hand out charts that show the best cruising altitude for a particular distance, takeoff weight, and temperature.

I know this probably doesn't help, but it's very difficult to give a firm number.. ATC doesn't help much either when climbs and decents are controlled and not just up to the airplane and its crew.
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RE: Distance To Altitude

Fri May 25, 2001 7:40 am

Decent from FL330 is usually about 100 miles.

Work the rest out from that Big grin

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RE: Distance To Altitude

Fri May 25, 2001 8:20 am

"I think 6,730 feet equal 1 mile."

A statute mile equals 5,280 feet, and a nautical mile is about 6,028 ft. I think...

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RE: Distance To Altitude

Fri May 25, 2001 8:28 am

a mile IS 5280ft. Smile/happy/getting dizzy

My posts/replies are strictly my opinion and not that of any company, organization, or Southwest Airlines.

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