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Flight too short to reach cruise altitude

Pro Member Captain
Kareem El-Sadi (crosscheck9) Captain

I was just thinking about previous flights I've completed, and I found that often, the distance of the flight was so short, there wasn't enough time to reach cruise altitude. Is the aircraft supposed to make a quick transition from climb to descent when ATC requests it, or am I supposed to file for an altitude I can reach within the flight? I wonder because it would seem strange filing for FL240 - Thanks

Pro Member Captain
John Hodges (originalgrunge) Captain

Nope, you've got it right. It takes a lot of fuel to get your plane up to cruise altitude, so it's really all about finding that balance between an economical cruise altitude, and the cost of getting you up there. For short hops FL240 is a fine choice.

If you check out a few ARTCC websites, New York actually has certain preferred flight routes if you're heading down to Washington DC, and usually the limit is around FL220.

Pro Member Captain
Kareem El-Sadi (crosscheck9) Captain

Very interesting - Thanks 😉

Pro Member Trainee
glen4cindy Trainee

I once flew threw KORL from KFLL with final destination of KSTL on Southwest airlines.

I am not really sure what altitude we reached, but, this flight was only 26 minutes in the air, not gate to gate, but, IN THE AIR.

I am not sure just what aircraft you are speaking of, but, you know SWA only flies 737's.

Pro Member Chief Captain
Matthew Shope (mypilot) Chief Captain

How about taking a smaller plane? Idea

Pro Member Captain
John Hodges (originalgrunge) Captain

Good point! That is why regional jets were born 😉. But even a lightly loaded 737 can be fuel efficient, and get far more passengers to a destination (however close) in just one shot! UVA's schedules are updated on a month-to -month basis to coincide with the real world schedules, and you'll find seasonal flights (like Denver-Colorodo springs, flight time about 30 minutes) change from extremely small planes (Dash-8's) in the summer into things like 737's in the winter for all those ski-travelers.

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