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Aviation/Flying/Query re Flight Duration



I recently found, to my surprise, that the fewer the pasengers on a flight, the further the range of the aircraft would be. I had always thought that the sheer tonnage and fuel of the aircraft would way override the slight weight of the passengers and their baggage.Do you know of any formulae, so that I could calculate how much farther a specific jet's range would be if the passengers were halved in number etc.?

Thanks, Geoff.

Hi Geoff, There are many weight limits that have to be observed by pilots. One of these is the maximum take off weight. This weight is set as limit during the certification of the aircraft and is affected by many variables such as temperature and field elevation as well as by runway length.

For purposes of this example we can suppose that the airport and elevation would allow the airplane to take off at this maximum weight. As is often the case if the fuel tanks are full of fuel, the weight of the passengers may be limited by the maximum take off weight to some capacity less than all seats full.

In another case where the passenger seats are all full then the fuel tanks cannot be full in order to stay at or below the maximum take off weight. In this case for each passenger that is left behind the range of the plane can be increased by the amount of additional fuel that can be carried by reducing the weight of the passengers.

Hope this answers your question.  


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Ned Dolan


38 years as a professional pilot. Worked as an instructor for a major airline, as a tow pilot towing gliders and flew international routes until 1998. Do not know much about the maintenance end of the business.


Teaching new Captains the skills and knowledge needed to occupy the position. Helping develop procedures for use in a new airplane type. (B757)

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