Intro to Climb Specific Range

I like to think from a pilot’s perspective when identifying what an aircraft needs, spending much of my time talking to owners and operators about achieving peak efficiency. As an aerospace engineer, I am an expert on flight loads, aerodynamics, and performance – I am a numbers guy through and through. Understanding how to maximize your climb specific range based on winds, temps, and takeoff weight makes all the difference in executing a perfectly efficient climb. Considering these three factors, calculating and flying the ideal profile is much more demanding then my “set it and forget it” technique discussed back in May. Purposeful climbing means going further and saving fuel, which is my favorite way to fly.

Calculating your optimal climb profile provides the most distance during climb and initial acceleration after level off, while using the least amount of fuel. However, this requires much attention, especially for non FADEC engines, so expect to be busy in the cockpit. While this article is an introductory overview of climbing efficiently, Part II will cover the mathematics and factors involved in calculating optimal climb specific range.

There are many choices involved in the climb process. Although not always the case, it is general knowledge that cruising at higher altitudes can help provide better specific range - but the key is recognizing where exactly you need to be for the most efficient cruise, and how to burn less on the way up. This starts with understanding the winds during your climb; for instance, if a strong headwind is met, a pilot will generally want to climb through it quickly , while a tailwind could provide a reason to hang out longer if fuel flow is not affected too much. And, if you are aiming for a higher altitude, every degree above ISA will increase density altitude about 100 to 120 feet - and we all know what happens when you mix a heavy aircraft and high-density altitudes. These examples cover only a few of the hourly choices that pilots are faced with during a climb if they really want to maximize efficiency and range. If they do not care as much, they can just fly the simple way with pitch mode.

I like to remind pilots that there is a better way to fly - this is where active winglets come into play. Getting a heavy aircraft to the certified ceiling in about thirty minutes with little impact of temperature gives pilots much more room to optimize climb specific range (plus an incredibly smooth climb experience). They can simply identify their optimal profile and execute without a hitch. Considering that a flatwing CJ gets stuck in the mid 30’s due to temperature and weight, flying with active winglets is a sure solution – they enable the jet to reach FL410, fly longer, and save a lot of fuel on that mission. This modification transforms the aircraft and provides a different reality for pilots, expanding their options and completely unlocking their aircraft’s potential.  If you are a pilot who lives, breathes, and flies for performance, this may be for you – but I believe that this is a solution every jet owner deserves.

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