Is it possible for a commercial pilot to set a minimal rate of climb - for example, 350' NM climb rate, target heading of 200 degrees and target altitude of 2000 feet above MSL - before getting radar vectors from ATC when they hit the target altitude?

  • $\begingroup$ Minimum climb angle & rate is zero, but that's a pretty bad idea on most departures. Maximum rate/angle depends on a large number of variables: model of 737, aircraft weight, temperature, derate or assumed temperature used for takeoff, pilot technique, use of "improved climb" procedure or not, and probably a few more. If you got the very best of all of the above, the climb rate would be pretty spectacular, but nothing you could count on seeing routinely. Lots & lots of "it all depends" here. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Jul 21, 2019 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, trying to keep this in layman terms - so for example if there was good visibility, no wind, 737 Next Generation -800, passenger load of 160, about 160,000 lbs, average temperature and derate, using GPS. $\endgroup$
    – FlyGRL
    Jul 21, 2019 at 1:20

1 Answer 1


You are asking several different questions, but I can answer the first part easily enough.

First, let's distinguish between climb rate and climb gradient: climb rate is expressed as feet per minute, climb gradient is expressed in feet per nautical mile.

The autopilot I am familiar with can be programmed for a target climb or descent rate, heading and altitude. With ground speed and some math a FPM rate could be set that will achieve a desired gradient, but I am not aware of any systems where this can be actually set.

737 takeoff and climb performance will vary greatly depending on weight and other variables.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .