Mike asked in Science & MathematicsPhysics · 2 months ago

# What happens when an airplane gets too high?

Does it just simply stop being able to gain altitude because it cant generate enough lift or will things actually start to malfunction when being too high. Thanks

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• Dixon
Lv 7
2 months ago

As you get higher the air gets thinner, which means you need more speed to get lift. But since the air is thinner there is also decreasing oxygen, which means at some point the plane just plateaus because the air doesn't have the oxygen required to make it go any faster and get higher. You also have to supply oxygen and heat to the pilot.

• 2 months ago

It does depend on the plane.  In the first world war the first plane to shoot down a zeppelin records his problem.  With increasing altitude the density of air reduces so the power of the motor gets less.  Eventually I could climb no further.  But the Zeppelin was above me and gaining altitude.  I put the plane into a stall with the nose pointing vertically at the blimp and fired.  The bullets tore through the fabric of the balloon and soon I saw a tongue of fire.

So in that case it was simply that the engine could no longer produce sufficient power.

An excellent video about a modern plane flying to max height is by "mentour pilot" on you tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=easH7ueBKXc

• NCS
Lv 7
2 months ago

The greater problem at increasing altitudes is the lack of oxygen, needed to burn the fuel.

True, the density decreases causing the lift to decrease for a given velocity. But the percentage of oxygen in that ever-thinning air also decreases.

• Kerri
Lv 5
2 months ago

At higher altitudes there is insufficient oxygen to feed the engines.  When the engines die from lack of oxygen they can be very difficult to restart.  An experienced pilot may be able to glide the aircraft to a safe landing ... a better idea is not to exceed the maximum altitude for the plane!