Why do passenger planes fly so high?

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It may not help with a fear of heights, but soaring above the clouds makes for a smoother and more efficient journey.

Asked by: Katie Barker, Leamington Spa

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There are lots of benefits to flying at an altitude of 11km. The air is thinner, producing less aerodynamic drag and thus reducing fuel consumption. It is also cold, around -55°C, which boosts the efficiency of the jet engines.

Plus, this part of the atmosphere – known as the stratosphere – is less turbulent, making for a smoother flight.


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Authors

Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.

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