How high do airplanes fly?

Updated: 9/11/2023
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7y ago

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Small private planes fly at 12,000 feet maximum. Passenger airliners fly from 32,000 to 40,000 feet. The Concorde super-sonic transport cruised at Mach 2 at 57,000 feet.

Small private planes fly at 12,000 feet maximum.

Passenger airliners fly from 32,000 to 40,000 feet.

The Concorde super-sonic transport cruised at Mach 2 at 57,000 feet.

Typical jet liners fly around 25,000 to 45,000 feet. Miltary fighters get up to 80,000 feet, some specialty planes such as The U2 spy plane and the SR-71 are thought to go as high as 120,000 feet. the x-15 has a ceiling of 354,000 feet I guess you could count the space shuttle and space ship one as "planes" since it is powered and does glide so it would have a limitless range. The height varies greatly depending on the type of plane and how far they are traveling.

Private planes flying for fun can fly as low as 500 feet above the terrain in unoccupied areas and 1000 feet above occupied areas.

When flying in bad weather planes will normally fly at least 1000 feet above the highest object within three miles of the plane. So, if an antenna in your area is 2000 feet above the ground, the lowest a plane can fly in that area would be 3000 feet.

Jet engines and reciprocating engines that are turbo charged perform better when flying higher. The planes also encounter less air resistance at higher altitudes.

Private planes normally high no higher then 25,000 feet above sea level. If a plane is rated as being able to fly higher then this, special endorsements (high altitude endorsements) are required by the pilot.

Jets have speed limits below 18,000 feet so they prefer to fly higher then that altitude unless landing or taking off. They also prefer to be in less congested air space. These have service ceilings of up to 45,000 feet.

Military spy planes have been known to fly as high as 70,000 feet. Airplane wings are curved on the top which make air move faster over the top of the wing. The air moves faster over the top of a wing. It moves slower underneath the wing. The slow air pushes up from below while the faster air pushes down from the top. This forces the wing to lift up into the air.

An upper limit on the airplane is the thinness of the air - there must be enough oxygen to support the turbofans running the plane. At about 70,000ft (about 14 miles) the air is thin enough that you start to require ramjets and higher speeds (2 to 3.5 Mach) to run efficiently, but by that time you are no longer running an "aircraft" but a vehicle on the edge of spaceflight.

Most commercial aviation planes run under 55,000ft (about 10 miles) and about 80% of the time run between 20,000ft (~4 miles) and 35,000ft (about 6 miles.) Considering the US SR-71 Blackbird to be the very edge of 'airplane' 85,000ft (16 miles) is the limit for 'conventional' aircraft.


An airplane is usually powered by an engine that require air to operate. So the limitation of flight is altitude that the engine can run.

Air vehicles can fly higher and into space by using a Rocket engine. But this is not considered to be a airplane by most definitions.

There is no exact value, as the atmosphere has no sharp cut-off point. The highest I know an aeroplane can go is 25,900m (85,000 ft), the service ceiling of the SR-71 Blackbird. Most of the vehicules that can top that can go into space and thus cannot truly be considered aeroplanes.
jumbos eg. Boeing and Airbus aeroplanes fly at around 40,000 feet or 11,000 metres.i hope this can help you.
The extremely popular Cessna 172, often used as a trainer, has a published ceiling of 13,500 feet. Having flown this airplane, I can attest to the fact that this altitude is more in the minds of the manufacturer, than in actual reality. This airplane is more likely to be flown at 1500 - 3500 ft. On a hot, humid day, when pressure altitude is very low, this airplane could not achieve that altitude, or could take hours to arrive at it.

Fighter jets, on the other hand, can reach altitudes of 50,000 feet or more.

The Cessna 172 is sometimes used for skydiving and with a Tandem and one cameraman will struggle at around 10000ft but will get to around 11500ft maybe 12000ft if you want to take an extra 10 or 15 minutes from 10000ft. Im sure it would get to 13000ft with a single pilot on a good day. I have jumped from a Cessna 172 on many occasions and its great for hop and pops from 3000ft to 5000ft.

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