How high do planes fly? | The Sun

TRAVELLING by plane has become a regular occurrence for many, especially in the winter months as we seek to escape the chilly UK weather in search of some sun.

While holiday-goers may be well acquainted with the customs of travelling by aeroplane, what they might not be as familiar with is knowing exactly how high their planes actually reach while flying.

How high do planes fly?

Commercial planes fly upwards of 6.6 miles up in the air – which is between 35,000 and 42,000 feet.

Planes can cover huge distances very quickly at these heights, but if they go too high they can run into serious problems.

It is important, therefore, that they stick in the "sweet spot".

According to the Smithsonian National Air And Space Museum, planes can run into difficulty if they fly too high because the air becomes thinner the higher they go in the atmosphere.



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The museum explains: "If a plane flies higher than the altitude it was designed to fly at, it will be difficult to create enough lift  to keep the plane up.

"Lift is created by differences in air pressure.

"Planes can't just keep going up and up – at some point, the air will be too thin for them to fly."

Why do planes have to fly so high?

Aeroplanes fly high to improve fuel efficiency and travel faster.

A jet engine operates more efficiently at higher altitude where the air is much thinner, allowing an aircraft to travel faster and burn less fuel.

Flying above 30,000ft also has the benefit of allowing the aeroplane to fly above most weather systems, making it more comfortable for the passengers.

What is the highest a plane can fly?

Most commercial aircraft are approved to fly at a maximum of around 42,000 feet.

This maximum is also known as a "service ceiling".

For the double-decker Airbus A380 superjumbo quadjet, this ceiling is 43,000 feet.

Meanwhile, for the Boeing 787-8 and the Dreamliner it is 43,100 feet.

The stretched Boeing 787-10 comes in a little lower, at 41,100 feet.

How fast do planes fly? 

A typical commercial passenger jet cruises at a speed of around 460 to 575 mph.

Generally speaking, the higher the aircraft flies, the faster it can travel.

Planes cruise at speeds between 460 to 575 mph at a height of about 36,000ft and this high pace can only be achieved at high altitude.

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The fastest passenger plane was Concorde in 1996 which reached 1,249 mph.

Meanwhile the fastest fighter jet plane, the North American X-15 rocket, reached 4,519 mph in 1967.

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