In the conceptual phase of the design, I am optimizing various entities of an airplane for the best cruising altitude and speed to reduce the cost, which also includes MTOW and fuel weight. Consider a scenario where airplane is undertaking a mission which will burn the entire mission fuel estimated. Now, in-flight it is very much likely that airplane is not able to fly at the best cruising altitude and/or speed. This will result in increase of fuel burn which might not be enough. How to tackle this problem of estimating fuel load for off-design conditions while optimizing the airplane?
One way to address this issue is to rely on the reserve fuel estimated for reserve mission such as loiter time. But, it might happen that airplane has to rely on the reserve fuel and due to increase in fuel burn during cruise, reserve fuel is less for loiter time. I don't think this is a desirable condition. Another way is to optimize the airplane for worst scenario. Now, the question arises what is that worst scenario. Is it flying at the cruise ceiling (cruising altitude and cruise ceiling are different) or something else?
Let me know how to address this problem. Thanks in advance!