holy crap, an RJ at FL 400 (with pax this time)

flightaware.com/live/flight/ASH2 … /KPHX/KSBP

It said FL380. Nothin wrong with that…

flightaware.com/live/flight/ASH2 … P/tracklog

If they were scheduled to go to FL380, then why did they go to FL400?

Turbulence? Congestion? In trail spacing? Number of reasons.

If they were getting chop at FL380, but a previous PIREP reported a smooth ride at the next suitable FL, then they could jump up to that FL and have a smooth ride.

If they had to keep up a certain speed for that spacing, but didn’t need to higher, they’d go higher and conserve fuel.

Any number of reasons would work, as long as they were under their service ceiling.


OK, thanks tyketto. It would be a good idea to stay under the service ceiling. :laughing:

They’re in the club now… wooohooooo yeahhhhh high five… (sound of several loud bangs) did you hear something?

They normally come across at 320 so turbulence would be my guess, maybe a much lower headwind too. Let’s see, that makes two RJ crews that have been to 400 that we know of. Other than the Bombardier test pilots.

This is a CRJ-900 so a big increase in performance compared to the CRJ-200, and no trouble getting up to 40 or 41,000 feet. Look at the climb rates, still climbing well right to the end. You would not see anywhere near this performance from a CR2. After the accident, Pinnacle restricted the maximum altitude to 37,000 feet on the CR2, not sure if others followed but you rarely see a CR2 above 31,000 feet anyway.

Haha wazzu - I hate to laugh at other people’s misfortune, but that actually brought out a chuckle this morning. I think that was at 41k though - still, good job. That’s one of the funnier things I’ve read on here in a couple of days…


Im sure that part 121 ops require them to stay under their service (at least i think) but there is no reg that requires you to stay under your service ceiling, Once flying in a family members ce501, (service ceiling of 38,400) we went up to FL430 to safe fuel on a really long leg, it worked too we didnt have to stop for gas however it took a REALLY long time to get there, towards the end we were climbing at like 30FPM. in a jet, reminds me of that old 152 i learned in.

There was an incident with a CRJ of some model that two pilots were ferrying. They exceeded not only the company recommended ceiling, but the aircraft’s actual service ceiling, and they did it to ‘have a little fun’. I’m not sure which report it is in at the NTSB, but it was filed, as they crashed and died. It happened over the midwest (Missouri, IIRC). I want to say it was Pinnacle.


FLG3701-N8396A I believe is accident you are referring to.
The cockpit voice recorder Transcript link.

That would be the one. Thanks!


Ive read that report and seen the news reports, from what everyone can tell they were not the greatest examples of decision making. But going above your cervice ceiling isnt dangerous it simply takes more time. Keep in mind the definition of service ceiling is “the altitude at which with maximum continuous power a 100 FPM climb” its not a regulation that says you may go no higher than this altidude.

Are pressurization capabilities not factored in when calculating an aircraft’s service ceiling? If the engines can handle it, but the plane splits apart like a can in the freezer, I’d think that would play a part in determing the ceiling. With hypoxia blackouts sneaking up on people, it always makes me nervous hearing you guys talking about hitting ceilings. Like that guy in the Mooney last week (or the week before) - it sucks that he died because he was at FL250, whereas had he spent a little more fuel/time and hugged the earth a little closer, he’d probably still be with us. I hope this doesn’t come across sounding idiotic, just sharing my thoughts…

Pressurization, over pressuization and emergency decent following a pressurization failure are all part of the original aircraft certification process and are one part of the certified ceiling calculation. For 99% of aircraft out there the certified ceiling is above the maximum gross weight service ceiling.
In other words the service ceiling is strictly performance based while the certified ceiling has all sorts of factors figured in.

The airplane I fly is certified to 45,000 ft. (43,000 on the tip tanked version) but there is no way you will get there until the last 45 minutes of the flight. FL 400 is possible at gross weight but we burn more fuel per mile compared to FL 380 until we’ve used about 2 hours worth of fuel. 410 is possible but it aint pretty.

John in Saudi

Nope, you just sound idiotic… Should the airlines fly around lower and just use a little more fuel and time? Should business turboprops and jets? If you’re going to fly an unpressurized aircraft to FL250, you should damn well know what your doing and have backup oxygen available, as well as a pulse oximeter.


I just sound idiotic? Why? Because I asked a legitimate question and got a smart assed remark? I’m sure the Mooney in question was pressurized - I’d like to think that pilot wasn’t on a suicide mission. What about Payne Stewart’s aircraft (I know that was a lear too, not a piston aircraft) - there’s countless other examples. I’m not advocating all GA buzzing around at 3500’; I was simply wondering if the advantages of a single piston mooney flying the ceiling at FL250, versus maybe vfr at 6000-8000 feet on a trip that he apparently made several times a week (according to logs on FA) is worth it, financially speaking. I’m just a student pilot, so don’t have alot of experience in anything that’s not cessna built. I’m simply wondering about the fuel/time saving by pushing the envelope, altitude wise in a single engine aircraft. I must say thanks to you porter for your insightful reply though; exactly what I was wondering.