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Aviation Glossary :: Cruise  Aviation Glossary :: Cruise FAA Written Test Preparation
Aviation Glossary Welcome to the Dauntless Aviation Glossary!

At Dauntless, our editorial staff maintains the web's largest unified glossary of aviation terms. This glossary is built from a combination of official, quasi-official, and proprietary sources (including original material that we develop oursselves). Uniquely, we often provide multiple definitions of a given term so that you can find that which best applies to you. In order to maximize your learning efficiency, this glossary (and similar ones for our international users) is incresingly fully integrated into our aviation learning apps, including our FAA written test prep and FAA practical test prep software and apps. If you like this glossary, you'll love them with their polished learning environments and world's best and clearest content (please do give them a try.).

Cruise
Cruise
Used in an ATC clearance to authorize a pilot to conduct flight at any altitude from the minimum IFR altitude up to and including the altitude specified in the clearance. The pilot may level off at any intermediate altitude within this block of airspace. Climb/descent within the block is to be made at the discretion of the pilot. However, once the pilot starts descent and verbally reports leaving an altitude in the block, he/she may not return to that altitude without additional ATC clearance. Further, it is approval for the pilot to proceed to and make an approach at destination airport and can be used in conjunction with:
  1. An airport clearance limit at locations with a standard/special instrument approach procedure. The CFRs require that if an instrument letdown to an airport is necessary, the pilot shall make the letdown in accordance with a standard/special instrument approach procedure for that airport, or
  2. An airport clearance limit at locations that are within/below/outside controlled airspace and without a standard/special instrument approach procedure. Such a clearance is NOT AUTHORIZATION for the pilot to descend under IFR conditions below the applicable minimum IFR altitude nor does it imply that ATC is exercising control over aircraft in Class G airspace; however, it provides a means for the aircraft to proceed to destination airport, descend, and land in accordance with applicable CFRs governing VFR flight operations. Also, this provides search and rescue protection until such time as the IFR flight plan is closed.
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source: FAA Pilot/Controller Glossary

Cruise is the level portion of aircraft travel where flight is most fuel efficient. It occurs between ascent and descent phases and is usually the majority of a journey. Technically, cruising consists of heading (direction of flight) changes only at a constant airspeed and altitude. It ends as the aircraft approaches the destination where the descent phase of flight commences in preparation for landing.

For most commercial passenger aircraft, the cruise phase of flight consumes the majority of fuel. As this lightens the aircraft considerably, higher altitudes are more efficient for additional fuel economy. However, for operational and air traffic control reasons it is necessary to stay at the cleared flight level. On long haul flights, the pilot may climb from one flight level to a higher one as clearance is requested and given from air traffic control. This maneuver is called a step climb.

Commercial or passenger aircraft are usually designed for optimum performance at their cruise speed or VC (or VCRUISE). There is also an optimum cruise altitude for a particular aircraft type and conditions including payload weight, center of gravity, air temperature, humidity, and speed. This altitude is usually where the higher ground speeds, the increase in drag power, and the decrease in engine power and efficiency at higher altitudes are balanced.

Typical cruising air speed for long-distance commercial passenger flights is 475–500 knots (878-926 km/h; 546–575 mph).

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source: Wikitionary / Wikipedia and Related Sources (Edited)


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Disclaimer: While this glossary in most cases is likely to be highly accurate and useful, sometimes, for any number of editorial, transcription, technical, and other reasons, it might not be. Additionally, as somtimes you may have found yourself brought to this page through an automated term matching system, you may find definitions here that do not match the cotext or application in which you saw the original term. Please use your good judgement when using this resource.


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