What Is Cruising Altitude?

When it comes to aviation, airplanes, and flight dispatching, a key consideration for the career is understanding what the ideal cruising altitude for airplanes is. Cruising altitude is the name given to the height that an aircraft will achieve for most of the flight or travel. This is the most constant altitude that most aircraft will experience, which is why they are deemed to be “cruising” when they reach this altitude. Cruising altitude is also the portion of a flight where aircraft are the most fuel-efficient because of the consistency in speed and engine use. What is cruising altitude, and how does it fit into different aircraft? Sheffield School of Aeronautics explores more in the following article.

What Is Cruising Altitude for a Plane? 

Commercial planes are one of the most common types of airplanes, which is why we will be focusing on them during this portion of the article. The normal cruising altitude for commercial airplanes is between 33,000 and 42,000 feet. This translates to nearly eight miles above sea level. This high altitude gives commercial flights the ability to have maximum fuel efficiency and reach high speeds because of the thin air. Also, being that high in the air gives airplanes and pilots the ability to safely navigate air traffic and maximize their safety while in the air and completing their normal traffic.


Most airlines like to reach this high cruising altitude because of the costs that they will save on fuel, which is obviously a huge draw for airlines that are looking to save money. This high cruising altitude also means that there could be smooth communication between air traffic controllers and pilots because of how far apart the other aircraft will be at such altitudes. In fact, most aircraft that are in the same area stay around 1,000 feet away from each other so that they do not collide. 

What Is the Cruising Altitude of a 747? 

Every aircraft will have a different ideal altitude where it operates at maximum efficiency. The optimal cruising altitude for a Boeing 747 is 35,105 feet. Each individual airplane will have a different “sweet spot” that translates to the most efficient ride for them. Obviously, not every flight on a 747 will be operated under this very specific condition, but when the atmospheric conditions and weather allow for it, every pilot should aim for this height. 

What Is the Cruising Altitude for a 737? 

Most commercial airplane manufacturers have different models of airplanes that are each used for different purposes because of the characteristics that each has. One of their most popular is the 737 jet. Closely related to the 747, a 737 jet has a very similar cruising altitude. The maximum cruising altitude for the new generation of 737 planes is 41,000 feet. At this altitude, 737 jets can still have great fuel efficiency and safety standards thanks to avoiding powerful winds and bad weather. However, its optimal altitude is around 37,000 feet. 

What Is the Cessna Cruising Altitude?

Cessna 172s are one of the most common recreational aircraft. These recreational airplanes are not designed to be flown as high or at the same high speeds as commercial airplanes, such as some of the Boeing or Airbus models. These recreational airplanes are less powerful and designed for shorter flights. Most Cessna 172s have a maximum altitude of 13,000 to 15,000 feet, which is much lower than the previously discussed models. These airplanes need to make sure that they stay within this range to be as safe as possible. 

More About Aircraft Dispatching School

What is cruising altitude on an airplane? The answer depends on what kind of airplane is being used and the type of flight that is being taken. At Sheffield, we are a specialized airline dispatcher school that is here to make sure that you have the tools and certifications needed to achieve your dream career. We have years of experience training FAA dispatchers with our collection of classes that cover most aspects of what they could expect in their careers. Some of our flight dispatch courses include the following:

Contact our flight dispatcher school today to learn more from our experts.

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