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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?

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  • $\begingroup$ 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 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 at 1:20
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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.

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