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Old Sep 20, 06, 10:52 am   #1
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What is the highest altitude your flight has flown on a commercial airline?

I always wondered why a typical commercial airplane flies at a certain altitude. I know alot of it has to do with the weather, fuel usage, type of aircraft, other planes on the route and approved flight plans. But I wonder how high my commercial flight could fly.

What is the highest your commercial airplane has flown and why does it not go even higher?
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Old Sep 20, 06, 11:00 am   #2
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I believe Boeing is designing their current (new) aircraft to be certified to the low-40's. I seem to recall that Concorde went somewhat higher...maybe 50k?

I'm sure there are many complications with going higher - the standard thing I've always heard for commercial airliners is that fuselage development would be much more expensive at higher altitudes. (e.g., it would either need to be heavier or made from completely different materials) The technology exists to do it, but the economics don't work.

Military aircraft, of course, can go much higher, since the plane isn't pressurized - only the pilot's suit is.
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Old Sep 20, 06, 11:43 am   #3
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We reached 55,000 feet on my Concorde flight. I doubt I will ever reach those lofty heights again.
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Old Sep 20, 06, 11:46 am   #4
 
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Did you see the curvature of the earth?
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Old Sep 20, 06, 11:53 am   #5
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Low 40s
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Old Sep 20, 06, 11:55 am   #6
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I remember being up in the low 40s... dont pay much attention to the
altitude these days...
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Old Sep 20, 06, 11:55 am   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaukau
Did you see the curvature of the earth?
Yes, although it wasn't super obvious.
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Old Sep 20, 06, 12:10 pm   #8
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410 is the highest flight level used in many parts of the world and I believe how high most commercial airliners are certified to. And I have been on flights at that altitude.
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Old Sep 20, 06, 12:18 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkkwan
410 is the highest flight level used in many parts of the world and I believe how high most commercial airliners are certified to. And I have been on flights at that altitude.
In the late 80's flying from Moscow to Tashkent, I was stumped looking out the window... I could see slight earth curvature and the sky color was fading upward into a dark blue/black. I'd heard that those planes were built like tanks, and internal pressurization/air quality was noticibly better than I was used to... but I had no idea of the service ceiling (often quoted as 36K for IL-86/96 )

I've not seen anything similar at 42,000'/43,0000', which is the highest I've been on trans-pacs on US airlines. ( And yes... I was surprised when the Pilot announced and IFE Map showed that altitude, too... I didn't know they did that ).
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Old Sep 20, 06, 12:36 pm   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenery
What is the highest your commercial airplane has flown
Concorde pax will have figures that far surpass subsonic airliners'.
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Old Sep 20, 06, 12:56 pm   #11
 
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I thought that I once heard that Concorde flew at 60K?
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Old Sep 20, 06, 1:09 pm   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_traveler
I thought that I once heard that Concorde flew at 60K?
I belive that max Concorde altitude was 59,000 feet. It was highly dependent on temperature, wind, time of the year, latitude, etc. The highest we got on mine was 52,000. When flying, the Concorde crew just open the throttles wide and leave them alone until its time to decend.
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Old Sep 20, 06, 1:17 pm   #13
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The highest altitude I remember a pilot announcing is 40k on a 757 on an ATL-SNA flight in 2000.
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Old Sep 20, 06, 1:19 pm   #14
 
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On my Southwest flight last week the pilot announced our cruising altitude was 40,000 feet.
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Old Sep 20, 06, 1:24 pm   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vulcan
I belive that max Concorde altitude was 59,000 feet. It was highly dependent on temperature, wind, time of the year, latitude, etc. The highest we got on mine was 52,000. When flying, the Concorde crew just open the throttles wide and leave them alone until its time to decend.
Essentially the Concorde was in a perpetual, slow climb througout the supersonic portion of the flight, slowly gaining altitude as it sheds weight by burning fuel. Generally the maximum cruising altitude was reached toward the end of the supersonic portion of the flight.
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