Airplane flying at altitude - how high do planes fly?

How high do planes fly?

Most commercial planes, like the ones you fly on to go visit Grandma, fly at 38,000 to 40,000 feet. They typically fly between 30,000 and 40,000 feet high. It usually only takes about 10 minutes to get there under normal conditions. This is called their cruising altitude which is the height they cruise at for most of the flight. Planes have the ability to fly higher than this but it is the safest height while still being efficient.

Why do planes fly at 38,000 ft?

The biggest reason planes fly at 38,000 feet is the air is thinner. This creates less drag on the plane, so the plane uses less fuel. Fuel is a huge cost for airlines and so fuel efficiency is extremely important.

Above 38,000 feet, the air gets too thin to hold the plane up. The engines also have more difficulty burning fuel as well. And lower than that, there are smaller planes, birds, thunderstorms and increased turbulence to contend with.

38,000 feet is also a safer height to crash land a plane from than 40,000+ feet, if one or both engines fail to a point where an emergency landing is needed.

How high do planes fly in KM?

Commercial planes fly at between 11.5 and 12 kilometers high. If we convert a commercial plane’s cruising altitude of 38,000 feet to KM we get 11.58 KM. There are multiple reasons that flying lower than that or higher isn’t ideal. We’ll go over that a little later.

How high do planes fly in miles?

Typically, commercial aircraft fly around 38,000 and 40,000 feet in the air. This is between 5.6 and 7.6 miles or about 9 to 12.2 miles. Any higher and the air is too thin to hold large commercial planes in the air. Any lower than that and the air is thinner and it becomes less fuel efficient to fly there. 

Thicker air means you need more power and therefore fuel to fly. Think about a car driving uphill vs one that is driving on flat ground. The one driving uphill will use more fuel faster than the one with less resistance driving on the flat ground. 

Can planes fly at 50000 feet?

Large commercial planes don’t fly at 50,000. They can fly up to between 43,000 and 45,000 feet when empty, but don’t typically fly that high with passengers, a full crew and luggage.

Smaller jets can fly at 50,000 feet pretty easily. The Concorde airliner reached a maximum cruising altitude of 60,000 feet. It had special jet engines that allowed it to efficiently cruise at that height.

Why aren’t those still around? Well, an Air France Concorde crashed just after taking off from Paris in 2000. All 109 people on board died. This and other factors caused the plane’s popularity to decline. The maintenance cost was high as well. 

What happens if a plane flies too high?

When a plane flies too high, it encounters air that is not rich enough in oxygen to burn and produce power to fly. The oxygen is less abundant and the plane engines aren’t able to ignite it or burn it as efficiently and air at lower altitudes. The higher a plane climbs, the less combustible oxygen is in the air. At a certain point, planes can’t create enough power to climb higher or fly. 

What is the highest altitude a plane can fly?

The highest altitude a typical commercial plane can fly today is 45,000 feet. Although they typically fly between 38,000 and 40,000 feet high. The highest altitude a commercial airliner flew was the Concorde that had a cruising altitude of 60,000 feet. The highest military airplane to fly was the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird that flew about 90,000 feet high. 

Can you breathe at 30,000 feet?

Yes, you could. But there is a lot more to this question than it initially sounds. That air could be as cold as 30 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Then, if you are in a plane and then exit the plane the instant pressure change could be very hard on the body and could cause any number of issues including lungs expanding till they explode. The wind chill would be extreme at 400-500 mph.

If a person were to ride up to that altitude, the lungs would fare a little better but said passenger would meet the same end, with freezing being the end outcome.  They would be fine up to the first several thousand feet, but they wouldn’t make it up to 30,000 feet.

If somehow, a person could protect themselves from the cold and wind, safely attach themselves to the outside of a plane, and ride up to 30,000 feet, theoretically, they could make it up to 30,000 feet and back down again, breathing and safe.

How high do 747 planes fly?

A Boeing 747 has a cruising altitude of 35,105 ft. There are a number of factors that can change a 747’s flying height though. Whether it is full of passengers, crew, fuel and supplies affects the plane’s weight. Other factors are the weather conditions and where the plane is headed for that particular flight. Each plane has an ideal cruising altitude and each flight does as well.

That sweet spot is the place where any plane, including a 747 can burn the least amount of fuel and travel to the destination as quickly as possible.

Thanks for reading this article on how high planes fly. If you found this information helpful, check out more articles below.

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