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Beginner's Guide to Propulsion
Maximum Flight Time

  1. The Maximum Flight Time for an aircraft depends on the specific fuel consumption, net thrust, and the mass of the fuel load. If all other factors for the following aircrafts remain the same, which of the 2 aircraft has the longer maximum flight time? Place an "X" on the correct line.


    AIRCRAFT A - The throttle setting is 58% _____X_____

    AIRCRAFT B - The throttle setting is 75% ___________


    AIRCRAFT A - The engine is producing 1500 pounds of thrust _____X______

    AIRCRAFT B - The engine is producing 2000 pounds of thrust ________


    AIRCRAFT A - has a turbojet engine with an afterburner ________

    AIRCRAFT B - has a plain turbojet engine _____X_____


    AIRCRAFT A - has a turboprop engine ___X_______

    AIRCRAFT B - has a rocket engine ___________


    AIRCRAFT A - has a L/D (lift to drag ratio) of .5 __________

    AIRCRAFT B - has a L/D (lift to drag ratio) of .8 _____X_____


    AIRCRAFT A - has a fuel mass flow rate of 2500 lbm/hr_____X_____

    AIRCRAFT B - has a fuel mass flow rate of 3500 lbm/hr__________

  2.  For a given mission, the required flight time could replace the maximum flight time in the required equation. This idea may be needed to solve the following:

    A. For mission I, we need 4500 pounds of thrust for 3 hours. If the Thrust Specific Fuel Consumption is .8, how much fuel is needed for this mission?
     M= t x TSFC x F
    M = 3 x .8 x 4500 = 10,800 lb mass of fuel

    B. For the second mission, the engines are being fed from a fuel tank that delivers 3200 pounds mass per hour. If the aircraft is producing 2500 pounds of thrust, what is the TSFC?

    TSFC = mf /F
    TSFC = 3200/2500 =1.28

    C. If the aircraft can carry 20,000 pounds mass of fuel plus the amount needed for takeoff and landing, what is the limit for the time the mission can take?

    tmax = M / (TSFC x F)
    tmax = 20,000/(1.28 x 2500) or 20,000/3200 = 6.25 hours

    D. The aircraft plans to maintain a cruise speed of 120 mph. What is the aircraft's maximum range?

    R = V x tmax
    R = 120 x 6.25 = 750 miles

    E. The aircraft was forced to land unexpectedly. At that time, there were only 15,000 pounds mass of fuel in excess of that needed for takeoff and landing. All other conditions remain the same. If the final destination of the mission is 630 miles away, what cruise speed should be maintained?

Step 1: tmax = 15,000/3200 = 4.6875 hrs,


Step 2: R = V x tmax

630 miles = V x 4.6875 hours

V = 135 mph

Related Pages:
Propulsion Activity Index
Propulsion Index


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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Thu, Jun 12 04:39:24 PM EDT 2014

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