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What is the main reason why cruise flight in the transition layer is prohibited? For example if we have a separation of 1000 ft between transition altitude and transition level, why should we not maintain a level in this layer of 1000 ft?

I know about transition altitude and transition level but what is the cognitive reason of this rule?

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  • $\begingroup$ I mean there is a rule all we know..for example if we have a separation of 1000 ft between transition altitude and transition level ,why we should not maintain a level in this layer of 1000 ft? $\endgroup$ – Hamid Feb 17 at 8:10
  • $\begingroup$ OK, I rephrased your question and included your example from the comment. Feel free to edit again, if I got something wrong... $\endgroup$ – Bianfable Feb 17 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks@Bianfable $\endgroup$ – Hamid Feb 17 at 8:22
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    $\begingroup$ Well, if you’re changing altimeter setting when transiting the level, what altimeter setting would you use when levelling off? What if someone else levels off, too, but with the other setting? How would you maintain separation to adjacent levels? $\endgroup$ – Cpt Reynolds Feb 17 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ @CptReynolds-Thanks but what if we manage all traffics with the same altimeter setting ,as example both set QNH in transition layer and commence cruise flight,does it lead to problem? $\endgroup$ – Hamid Feb 17 at 18:40
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The main reason for the transition layer is to assure separation between the highest usable altitude (TA) and the lowest usable FL (TRL). That means it has to be at least 1000ft thick. If the QNH is 1014 or above the transition level is always just 1000ft above the TA (5000ft and FL60) because the whole FL system is shifting upwards above the MSL. This means for each hPa above standard QNH 1013 your transition layer will be about 30ft thicker.

If QNH drops to 1013 or below the opposite happens: The base of the FL system falls below MSL, so FL000 is at -30ft MSL per 1hPa below 1013.

If QNH is 1003, the difference between 5000ft and FL60 is only 700ft because 1000ft-(10hPa*30ft)=700ft. In this case the TRL above TA 5000ft has to be FL70 to assure the separation between highest altitude and lowest FL is at least 1000ft. So now we have a transition layer with one spare FL - FL60. If one would now fly at 6000ft we only have the above mentioned 700ft to FL70; if one would fly at FL60 only 700ft to 5000ft. This is why the transition layer may not be used for cruise flight

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @pcfreakss ...may I know conditions of assigning TA? $\endgroup$ – Hamid Feb 17 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ but assigning the TA is conventional actually , i wanna know does it deal with the separation between obstacles and ACFTs or not? $\endgroup$ – Hamid Feb 17 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Hamid The TA is published for a specific airport in the AIP and the ATIS. In Germany for example it is always 5000ft $\endgroup$ – pcfreakxx Feb 18 at 12:17
  • $\begingroup$ @pcfreakxx It is actually 5000 ft AMSL or 2000 ft AGL, whichever is higher. See e.g. here. $\endgroup$ – Bianfable Feb 18 at 16:56
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Your question says there is 1000ft between the TA and TL, but depending on how QNH compares to QNE from day to day and from place to place, the actual thickness of the layer will vary; it will always be at least 1000ft (though rarely more than 1999ft). This guarantees that an aircraft at the TL and an aircraft at the TA will always be properly separated.

Flght levels (QNE) below the transition level (TL) could be less than 1000ft above other aircraft below the layer. Therefore, they are invalid.

Altitudes (QNH) above the transition altitude (TA) could be less than 1000ft below other aiircraft above the layer. Therefore, they are invalid.

Ergo, within the layer itself, there is neither a valid flight level nor a valid altitude; there is literally nothing in between for ATC to assign. You can only climb or descend through it to a valid assignment on the other side.

If you did try cruising at an invalid altitude/FL within the layer, then you would likely not be properly separated from crossing aircraft either at the TA, at the TL, or both. It's better for everyone to not have to worry about such things, which is why the layer exists in the first place.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot , but assigning the TA is conventional actually , i wanna know does it deal with the separation between obstacles and ACFTs or not? $\endgroup$ – Hamid Feb 17 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Hamid I've improved my explanation of aircraft separation. Terrain clearance is a concern any time you're at or below the transition altitude; that's usually how the authorities decide where to put it. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Feb 17 at 23:08

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