absolute ceiling

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absolute ceiling

[′ab·sə‚lüt ′sēl·iŋ]
(aerospace engineering)
The greatest altitude at which an aircraft can maintain level flight in a standard atmosphere and under specified conditions.

Absolute Ceiling


the maximum altitude above sea level at which aircraft flight is possible.

Absolute ceiling is usually expressed in terms of the international standard atmosphere and the design weight of the aircraft. A distinction is made between the static and the dynamic ceiling of an aircraft. Static ceiling is the altitude at which the aircraft can fly for a prolonged period of time at a steady speed. Dynamic ceiling, which is higher than static ceiling, is the altitude that can be attained for a short period of time in a decelerated flight.

Absolute records for flight altitude (without load) as of Jan. 1, 1974, according to the International Aeronautical Federation (FAI) are, for static ceiling, 24,463 m, set in 1965 by R. Stephens of the USA; dynamic ceiling for an aircraft starting from the earth’s surface, 36,240 m, achieved in 1973 by A. V. Fedotov of the USSR; and dynamic ceiling for an aircraft launched from a carrier airplane, 95,936 m, set in 1962 by R. White of the USA.

absolute ceiling

The maximum altitude at which a sustained rate of climb is no longer possible (i.e., the rate of climb is zero). At this altitude, the maximum power available curve just about touches the power-required curve, meaning there is no reserve of power available to permit any climb. Also called absolute aerodynamic ceiling