Thursday, September 6, 2007


Speeds such as Mach Crit and MMO for a specific airplane occur at a given Mach number. The true airspeed (TAS), however, varies with outside air temperature. Therefore, true airspeeds corresponding to a specific Mach number can vary considerably (as much as 75 – 100 knots). When an airplane cruising at a constant Mach number enters an area of higher outside air temperatures, true airspeed and required fuel increases, and range decreases. Conversely, when entering an area of colder outside air temperatures, true airspeed and fuel flow decreases, and range increases. In a jet airplane operating at high altitude, the indicated airspeed (IAS) for any given Mach number decreases with an increase in altitude above a certain level. The reverse occurs during descent. Normally, climbs and descents are accomplished using indicated airspeed in the lower altitudes and Mach number in the higher altitudes.

Unlike operations in the lower altitudes, the indicated airspeed (IAS) at which a jet airplane stalls increases significantly with altitude. This is due to the fact that true airspeed (TAS) increase with altitude. At high true airspeeds, air compression causes airflow distortion over the wings and in the pitot system. At the same time, the indicated airspeed (IAS) representing MMO decreases with altitude. Eventually, the airplane can reach an altitude where there is little or no difference between the two.

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