Can the sound produced by a commercial aircraft flying at 35000 feet be heard on the ground when the surroundings are quiet?

  • $\begingroup$ At what ground elevation? I think the answer is "yes" regardless, but ground elevation might make a difference. I often hear B747 and A380 aircraft flying over at those high flight levels, but an elevation of 3000 or 5000 ft is different than at sea level. $\endgroup$
    – J Walters
    Jul 5, 2017 at 16:15

1 Answer 1



It doesn't even has to be very silent around you.

But because of the speed of sound, you will hear the aircraft later. Here is the approximate time, the sound needs to reach you:

Speed of sound at MSL: ~340m/s

35.000 ft in m: ~10660m

10660 / 340 =

~ 31s

That means you will maybe hear the aircraft but you are not going to spot it where the sound comes from.

Note that this is not an exact value, as speed of sound varies with air density and temperature, which both change the higher you are.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This appears to only address the delay in hearing the sound. Could you add something about attenuation? $\endgroup$ Jul 5, 2017 at 15:49

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