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High Altitude Airliners

Jamie4590 Guest

As a means of saving money on fuel do you think airliners will soon be designed to fly much higher. Perhaps FL500 - FL600? Or can you only fly this high by approaching or exeeding Mach 1?

Pro Member Chief Captain
Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Personally, I don't think that'll happen for a long time. For airliners to use the aircraft that fly much higher, manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus need to invest heavily into R&D, which is a very expensive process and one that takes a lot of time. This high cost has to be passed on in order to make a profit, so airlines must pay high prices for the aircraft, for which the airlines must pass on the cost to the customer which detracts them from wanting to fly if it is too expensive. The money they would save on fuel, costs them in running the aircraft and buying them in the first place.

Wink

Jamie4590 Guest

I think global pollution from aviation fuel is higher than any other contributor! and its set to get worse. Flying higher burns less fuel and is better for the enviroment. At worst it would be balanced out by the increasing number of worldwide daily flights. You would need to exceed mach 1 to attain these flight levels without stalling so the flight would be shortened ticket prices would be lower thanks to less fuel per flight so you get there quicker for less. Hows that for a tagline! Maybe I should send my cv to Mr Branson! Wink

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Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Jamie4590 wrote:

I think global pollution from aviation fuel is higher than any other contributor! and its set to get worse. Flying higher burns less fuel and is better for the enviroment. At worst it would be balanced out by the increasing number of worldwide daily flights. You would need to exceed mach 1 to attain these flight levels without stalling so the flight would be shortened ticket prices would be lower thanks to less fuel per flight so you get there quicker for less. Hows that for a tagline! Maybe I should send my cv to Mr Branson! Wink

I think you are underestimating the extreme costs involved. Fuel of a flight, is really not a cost that is going to cut the flight ticket price. The amount of R&D required, combined with the testing, combined with the salaries of those involved, is climbing into the billions. Do aircraft manufacturers really want to take that risk if it all goes wrong?

Airlines, now have the option of buying a commercial aircraft that they know functions (an A340 / B737 - whatever the aircraft may be) for a reasonable price, or they can take an extreme risk, and buy a supersonic aircraft that flys on completely different principles. The chances of a disaster are always prominent in their minds. All of the pilots have to go through extensive retraining that would take months, even years. Bear in mind, that the time it takes for a pilot to become type rated from a Boeing aircraft to an Airbus (or vice versa) is over 6 months and costs £35,000 ($70,000).

Wink

Jamie4590 Guest

To avoid confusion do pilots stick to one type of aircraft or can they earn ratings allowing them hop in to any number of heavy aircraft at a moments notice?

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Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Jamie4590 wrote:

To avoid confusion do pilots stick to one type of aircraft or can they earn ratings allowing them hop in to any number of heavy aircraft at a moments notice?

Pilots earn their licenses i.e. from PPL to ATPL and then join an airline. That airline will designate them an aircraft for which they will become rated on with lots of line training etc. If they wish to switch aircraft within the company or switch to another company, then they need to build up simulator time in order to become rated on that aircraft. If you want to switch aircraft completely, i.e. from Boeing to Airbus, then be prepared for a 6 month re-alignment and retraining in another aircraft. Theres no need for a pilot to get as many type ratings as possible because it costs a lot and he / she will probably not need them all.
Aircraft are usually grouped aswell. If you become rated for the 757, you also become rated for the 767 (or nearly) due to their similarity.

Wink

Jamie4590 Guest

Wow either you type at mach 2 or you have templates lol.

I know this question is asked all the time but do you know the avarage £sterling cost involved to obtain a PPL and once you've got a PPL is it normal for an airline to provide sponsorship to cover costs of instrument/commercial rating?

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Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Jamie4590 wrote:

Wow either you type at mach 2 or you have templates lol.

I know this question is asked all the time but do you know the avarage £sterling cost involved to obtain a PPL and once you've got a PPL is it normal for an airline to provide sponsorship to cover costs of instrument/commercial rating?

Depends on how you do it.

You can either get a PPL having around one lesson per week, which will cost you around £6000-8000 depending on how quick you learn, and the weather conitions where you live. If you do an intensive course, then it will cost around £5000. You also have the choice of going to America to do your PPL (its extremely cheap in the US compared to here) for around £3000-3500.

From then, you can do a night rating, instrument rating, commercial rating and an airline tranport license rating. Again, you can either do these through a flight school or do them all at once intensively. Scholarships are always an option, but whether they are suitable to you is another matter. I can't comment on whether it is or not as I don't know your age, intelligence or maturity. Bear in mind though, that they usually require specific GCSE grades and A level grades and sometimes in specific subjects.

Wink

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hinch Chief Captain

actually in the UK you can save a fair amount of money. Some airfields sell packages you can give as a gift, EG. full PPL training for £3500 Wink

as for flying higher it creates a lot of stress on an aircrafts fuselage with the changing pressures - thus why concorde was so small to keep strength. aluminium expands and contracts (a cycle?) and produces fatigue; think aloha airline's 732 with no roof...

new composite fuselages don't stress in the same way and you can in theory climb higher, but to do this you first need to get there, and carrying the extra fuel needed to get higher completely undermines the point in having a lighter aircraft.

Jamie4590 Guest

An all-inclusive package to get a PPL seems like a good deal then. I wonder though if these types of packages would put you in the hands of the clubs most experienced and respected instructors?

Interesting you mention the Aloha Airline's 1988 disaster because the events that caused it are reconstruced tonight, 9pm on UK's National Geographic channel. Very Happy

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Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Jamie4590 wrote:

An all-inclusive package to get a PPL seems like a good deal then. I wonder though if these types of packages would put you in the hands of the clubs most experienced and respected instructors?

Interesting you mention the Aloha Airline's 1988 disaster because the events that caused it are reconstruced tonight, 9pm on UK's National Geographic channel. Very Happy

There isn't really correlation between the type of course you do, whether it be intensive or spread out, and the ability of the instructors. It goes on the flight school, its pass rate and its reputation.

Wink

Jamie4590 Guest

My local flight school uses the AT3-100 is that a good trainer aircraft? It also details other licenses such as the IMC rating. Would that be done in the same aircraft because I always thought to get this rating you need to fly above the transition altitude. Or is that for commercial IMC?

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Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Jamie4590 wrote:

My local flight school uses the AT3-100 is that a good trainer aircraft? It also details other licenses such as the IMC rating. Would that be done in the same aircraft because I always thought to get this rating you need to fly above the transition altitude. Or is that for commercial IMC?

Its similar to the PA-38 which is a nice basic aircraft. The IMC license is only a form of the instrument license so has nothing to do with transition altitude. You don't have to go above tranisiton altitude for your Commercial Pilot License (CPL) either. There is no such thing as a Commercial IMC.

Besides, you're probably thinking of the US transition altitude of 18,000ft. In the UK, transition altitude is 3000ft which you can get to in a C-152.

Wink

Jamie4590 Guest

Does that mean the barometer should read 29.92 above 300ft in the UK and is it simulation hours that qualify a pilot to fly at flight levels if they dont need to go that high to become a commercial pilot? Sorry if I'm sounding like a dunce. Honestly I'm not Very Happy !

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Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Jamie4590 wrote:

Does that mean the barometer should read 29.92 above 300ft in the UK and is it simulation hours that qualify a pilot to fly at flight levels if they dont need to go that high to become a commercial pilot? Sorry if I'm sounding like a dunce. Honestly I'm not Very Happy !

In the UK, we use a different setting to the Americans.

29.92 = 1013mb which is used in the UK. 1013 should be entered as the altimeter setting above 3000ft.

QNE is the 3rd altimeter setting of 1013 / 29.92.

There is nothing special about flying at high altitudes. As soon as you have passed your PPL, you can fly at 10,000 feet if the aircraft permits, i.e. 7000ft above transition altitude. It is actually the Quadrantal Rule or the Semi-Circular Rule that defines what Flight Level you fly at. I'll go into them in more detail if you so wish.

No, you don't sound like a dunce - you're just inquisitive Wink

Jamie4590 Guest

Quadrantal Rule and the Semi-Circular Rule are terms I'm unfamiliar with so yes please Jon. I have so many questions perhaps you might want to set up an invoicing system! Big Grin

What altitude is the start of IFR where regardless of conditions you have to use instruments and keep ATC informed of your plans?

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hinch Chief Captain

fl180

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Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Jamie4590 wrote:

What altitude is the start of IFR where regardless of conditions you have to use instruments and keep ATC informed of your plans?

Yes, Class A airspace is strictly IFR only which starts at 18,000ft and ends at FL600.

Below FL245 - Quadrantal Rule:

The Quadrantal Rules stipulates that when flying IFR above the transition altitude (outside of controlled airspace) the PIC must select a Flight Level for cruising based on the quadrantal rule.

Excuse my crude demonstration courtesy of MS Paint:

A = An odd flight level between 000 - 089 degrees
B = An odd flight level + 500ft between 090 - 179 degrees
C = Even flight level between 180 - 269 degrees
D = Even flight level + 500ft between 270 - 359 degrees

For example, if you are flying below FL245 and above FL30 in a direction of 156 degrees, then you must fly at an Odd flight level (FL130) + 500ft i.e. fly at an altitude of FL135 or FL155 etc.

Above FL245 - Semi-Circular Rule:

This is slightly more simple. Above FL245, in an Easterly direction, i.e. flying in a direction of 000 to 179 (A and B in the diagram), then you fly at an odd Flight Level, i.e. FL250, FL270, FL290, FL310, FL330, FL350, FL370, FL390 and FL410. After that, you fly at 4000ft above.

In a Westerly direction, i.e. between 180 and 359 degrees (C and D in the diagram), then you fly at even Flight Levels, i.e. FL260, FL280, FL300, FL320, FL340, FL360, FL380, FL400, FL430 (yes, its the exception for some reason) and then 4000ft higher than that if you want to fly higher.

Remember, all of the above is for uncontrolled airspace. If you are in controlled airspace, the Flight Level for cruise is dictated by your flight plan.

Hope that helps - don't hesitate in asking if you have any other questions Wink

Jamie4590 Guest

Cheers for the info dude. Your posts are worthy of referencing. Clapping

I just saw a reconstruction of the 1992 Boeing 747 tragedy in Holland. Incredible how the inner right engines fuse pins failed causing the engine to shear off in to the outer right engine.

Until the engines were found the possibility of a ground to air attack was considered. Today this kind of threat to a plane at low altitude is even more, so are there systems that are likely to be deployed across commercial aircraft that detects an approaching missile. Perhaps even equiped with combat counter-measures?

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Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Jamie4590 wrote:

Cheers for the info dude. Your posts are worthy of referencing. Clapping

I just saw a reconstruction of the 1992 Boeing 747 tragedy in Holland. Incredible how the inner right engines fuse pins failed causing the engine to shear off in to the outer right engine.

Until the engines were found the possibility of a ground to air attack was considered. Today this kind of threat to a plane at low altitude is even more, so are there systems that are likely to be deployed across commercial aircraft that detects an approaching missile. Perhaps even equiped with combat counter-measures?

No, I don't think so. Yes it is a very real possibility and one that can't be protected against, realistically.

It would be so expensive to fit anti-missile technology (sorry, I don't know anything specific about attack countermeasures) that it really isn't worth it. It can only protect against one or a few rockets, to which terrorists would use more people and rockets, or just use bullets instead. Basically, for every method of prevention you use, there is always a simplistic method to get around it. Sad but true.

That is why, so much more money is being put into defence. Governments are better off putting money into stopping these weapons from getting into terrorist hands than stopping them being used effectively. This will get too political and be locked, so I'll leave it there.

Wink

Jamie4590 Guest

Indeed.

Our biggest hope is that those on the trigger will let humanity prevail.

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Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Jamie4590 wrote:

Indeed.

Our biggest hope is that those on the trigger will let humanity prevail.

Unlikely, but we can hope Wink

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