What are examples of scenarios where a pilot would want to maximise or minimise aircraft rate of climb? What performance metrics should one consider to analyse steady climbing flight?

The scenarios I thought one would maximise rate of climb is military aircraft dog fight and clearance of airspace quickly in airports

Please add your thoughts if you can imagine any

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Is this a homework question, or is there some underlying basis for your inquiry? There are entirely too many scenarios and variables to account for to give you a comprehensive answer unless you can narrow the scope of your question. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Nov 18, 2016 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ It's not exactly homework or assignment questions as these questions are given to us to learn more about aircraft performance and get insight about it but I can assume of only two scenarios where military aircraft dog fight and take off of commercial aircraft where one need to vacate airspace quickly . Thanks for your reply $\endgroup$
    – chaithanya
    Nov 18, 2016 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ Until I read your comment I thought you were joking. The blindingly obvious one to me is collision and/or cloud avoidance. Apparently not so obvious though. Your question would do better if you included those thoughts in your comment, people like to see what you've already thought about so they can give better answers. $\endgroup$
    – Notts90
    Nov 18, 2016 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Notts90 thanks for your suggestion and can you explain why a pilot want to avoid a cloud $\endgroup$
    – chaithanya
    Nov 18, 2016 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ I'd recommend that as a separate question "What are issues with flying through clouds?". The primary is visibility, turbulence and icing are also issues. $\endgroup$
    – Notts90
    Nov 18, 2016 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


Dogfight is about energy management. You care less about climbing than about being able to turn your nose and weapons into the right direction as quickly as possible without falling out of the sky.

Maximum climb would be required in those scenarios:

  • Fly as efficiently as possible. Flying higher means flying faster and in colder air, so the engines are more efficient. Note that todays airliners climb as fast or faster than fighter aircraft in WW II.
  • Evade ground threats. After delivering its ordnance, an attack aircraft would desire to get away from hostile fire as quickly as possible. Sometimes this is achieved by flying with the best climb angle, though.
  • Break off combat: If you know you can climb faster than your opponent, you can choose whether you fight or get away, a luxury the other guy does not have.
  • Intercept: If you were ordered to intercept an unknown aircraft flying high above, maximum climb speed is helpful. If you need to be fast as well, your optimum climb profile is that of highest energy gain, though.

I interpret minimum rate of climb as maximum descent rate. Typical scenarios are:

  • Pressure loss in an airliner, when higher density air should be reached in order to continue the flight safely.
  • Dropping parachutists: If the aircraft lands ahead of the skydivers, it can fly more often and earn more revenue.
  • Extreme case: Dive bombing. Actually, most dive bombers employed air brakes to limit the speed in a dive.

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