Why do airplanes fly so high?

Probably the first thing we notice about an airplane is how high it flies. Often we hear it, but can’t see it with all the cloud cover shrouding it from our vision. Would it not be safer if it were to fly more close to Earth, we often wonder.

The primary reason why high-altitude flight was brought into practice was because it was safer. Initially, technology had restricted us to low-altitude flight. The airplane suffered the full effects of the atmosphere. There were air pockets to be dealt with; massive drag forces and bad weather were frequent problems. In fact, people preferred travel by rail because it was much safer, despite the length of the journey.

Technology then enabled us to go much higher. The air is thinner above the atmosphere, and there are no active weather systems. The airplanes were able to travel much faster, with the drag force almost negligible. Less resistance to travel also meant better mileage and efficiency. It was also much safer, since the greatest danger had previously been posed by bad weather and fog. Today, flight altitudes also help ensure that flights do not collide. With a large number of airplanes using the same route, it is the altitude that allows for the necessary separation.

Today, almost all modern airplanes tend to fly at high-altitudes. However, there are certain factors to take in consideration. Firstly, the air is much thinner at high altitudes, and airplanes are pressurized. Some breathing aid is also provided to people who tend to suffer from such problems. But all considered, high-altitude flying is much safer and has become the normal practice for air travel throughout the world.

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