Flight Levels and Speed

From:         houtex@wt.net (ME Incorporated)
Date:         12 Jul 1999 01:29:51 -0400
Organization: World Trade Network, Inc. (WT.net)
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I'm sorry to post a question about a computer aircraft simulator in these
newsgroups, but it does have something to do with Real Life (tm), and I have
to know!

I was flying in Microsoft Flight Simulator 98, which is supposed to be
pretty realistic when it comes to the flight models of the 737-300.

I noticed that the higher you go, the lower the Maximum Mach needle was.
This needle shows the fastest your aircraft is designed to go in terms of
Mach (speed of sound), and moves according to air density (I guess.)  If
your indicated airspeed is near or exceeds this marker needle, you may be in
trouble.  In real life this is bad.  In a simulator, well, reset!

 At 19000 feet, you can go almost 400kts (or faster?), but at 33000, you
can't quite get to 300Kts without having the "overspeed" warning show up.
Is this realistic?  It makes sense, given that the density of the air is
less, and I think I remember that the speed of sound is slower due to the
lower air density, so therefore, the maximum mach would be at a slower Kts

I am not a physics major, but wouldn't it be faster to fly at the lower
altitude in real life?  I can't see any difference in fuel consumption in
the simulator, but then again, it's a (to be honest) crude simulation.

Wouldn't it make sense for the airliners to fly at the lower altitude, save
the time, and turn around the aircraft faster?  This would allow the
airlines to use less aircraft, less crews, and make more money with more
paying passengers per aircraft per day.  (Provided, of course, fuel
consumption stays constant at cruise.)

Obviously, there might be a safety issue at the lower altitude, but that's
for another discussion if my simple little theory is correct...

Or is the simulator just screwed up?

Just wondering... and thanks in advance!


"Flying is easy... buying the tickets, that's hard."