Optimum Cruise Altitude and Fuel Burn Calculator


Initial Form

  1. Select the model of aircraft you wish to find the Optimum Economy and Performance Cruise altitude and Power setting for.
  2. The Parameters section allows you to put in things about your trip that make it unique and will affect the computers Optimum result. Things like trip distance affect Optimum Alt and settings. Even though typically high altitudes usually result in more efficient trips, sometimes if the trip is short there just isn’t enough time up their to make up the cost for climbing. Other parameters are fairly self explanatory like minimum cruise altitude (Terrain) and max cruise altitude (O2 Requirements). Many of the POH/AFM distinguish some of the performance data by weight, this calculator takes that into consideration, so you will notice on some models weight will affect trip burns and cost. If you put in a weight that is not within the range of approved data for that particular model, the program will default to maximum gross weight. The Fuel Capacity is purely for range calculation, you can put as much or as little fuel in the tanks, and it shouldn’t effect your Optimum Alt and BHP.
  3. This section is extremely handy it allows you to create your own winds aloft profile. With data from NOAA or other sources you can build what the wind profile will look like up through the atmosphere and the calculator will take that into consideration, when determining your optimum Alt and BHP. Since the computer doesn’t know what your True Course will be it cannot figure out what the headwind or tailwind component will be. We leave that up to the user to figure out what the HW/TW component will be for your particular direction of flight.
  4. Just don’t forget to push the Submit button at the bottom to run your analysis.



Optimum Altitude and Power Setting Results

  1. This is like your reciept, it shows you what report you’ve ordered. It basically allows you to see each parameter in the report you have requested.
  2. The Range section applies the Econ and Power Performance computed below to determine how far this aircraft can go in current conditions with a 45 min reserve, with the amount of fuel you selected to be in the tank. The amount of dashes are visual interpretation of the distance, as they relate to each other, each dash represents as specified number of kts. You can also see how the distance you’ve selected compares with what the aircraft can reasonably do.
  3. After taking into consideration all of the possible profiles ( running 100’s of basic cross country planning calculations in a millisecond) this was the particular combination that was most efficient. It allows you to see a side by side view with the Performance numbers to compare the difference in fuel Cost and in Time. Note- Some aircraft have more than one climb profile (IE normal, and max performance) this calculator considers them in determining best profile and displays which one resulted in the best Economy Alt and Setting.
  4. After all profiles calculated with these current conditions this was the very fastest. Allows a side by side comparison with the most efficient profile.
  5. This is a visual graphic of the wind profile the user inputted on the initial page. Each arrow represents a determined number of kts. It also allows the user to see how the intermediate altitudes between the standard 3000, 6000, 9000, 12000ft were interpolated by the computer. An interpolation of some kind is used for every possible altitude used in the calculation, the inputted 3000, 6000, 9000,12000ft are the necessary framework to make those interpolations.
  6. Allows the user to see how the most efficient profile compares with the most efficient power settings from each altitude. The Optimum Efficient Altitude is pointed to by the arrows in the left hand column.
  7. Just like number six this is the Performance equivalent. The arrows in the left column point to the fastest altitude. It allows the user to see how different altitudes compare to each other. Note- The total trip burn includes the fastest Climb and Cruise burns for that particular altitude.



Disclaimer- This should not be used as a sole flight planning tool. Some models of aircraft have minor changes not reflected in the standard PIH. We recommend taking the suggested altitudes, as the start point for your own manual flight planning.

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