A few days ago I was listening to the Toronto Center controller for "high altitude" flights on frequency 134.575.
I was watching the contrails of a 4 engined airliner approaching the Toronto VOR at YYZ from the west when I heard one of it's pilots check in with Toronto Center. They were a Lufthansa flight and were level at FL 330.
The ATC controller advised the pilot that he was radar identified at 33,000 feet and instructed him to fly direct to the MIILS waypoint (in New Brunswick).
The pilot acknowledged ATC's instructions. A few minutes later he flew directly overhead of me and I could clearly see with my binoculars that it was a Lufthansa A340.
Then the controller asked the Lufthansa pilot if he could climb to FL 350 for traffic purposes.
The pilot replied that he couldn't climb from FL 330 to FL 350 because it was to early for him due to still being to heavy.
The ATC controller said OK, maintain FL 330 then, and that was that.
I wasn't aware that an airliner such as an A340 could only fly to certain altitudes while still at certain weights. So this was interesting to hear and learn about. I guess it could climb higher later on after burning off some more fuel.
My questions are ............
How often do you think an airliner flight crew has to decline an ATC request for them to climb to a higher altitude because they're still to heavy?
When an airline dispatcher (or whoever) files an IFR flight plan with ATC for a certain aircraft, I guess the altitude they file for is affected by the aircraft's take-off weight, among other things. Is this true?
Photo © Anton Pettersson
Photo © Denis Roschlau
Edited for spelling & typos.
[Edited 2004-05-18 22:32:02]
[Edited 2004-05-18 22:37:05]
[Edited 2004-05-18 22:38:40]