I have done a lot of research and I have found out that different planes have different climb angles. Some look like they are climbing at a higher rate than others. Why is this? Do some aircraft have higher or lower critical AoA than the other? If yes, then why? Is it the design of the airfoil?

  • $\begingroup$ I guess it also depends on the kind of engine. E.g. turbojets may have a higher critical aoa than propeller planes. $\endgroup$ Feb 17, 2022 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


I think you're misunderstanding the concept of Angle of Attack. The Angle of Attack is the angle between the plane's flight path through the air and the airfoil's chord.

Image of three important angles: angle of attack, pitch attitude, and flight path. (Source: https://www.apstraining.com/resource/three-critical-angles/)

If an airplane is pitched up 12° from the horizon, but climbing at 10°, then its angle of attack is only 2°.

The angle of attack doesn't have anything to do with climb performance. The maximum rate of climb and angle of climb are (mostly) determined by the amount of thrust the engine is creating, the efficiency of the wing, and the weight of the plane.

Different airfoil designs will indeed have different critical AoAs.

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    $\begingroup$ To make a minor but important clarification, Flight path must me measured relative to the airmass, not the ground, of course (this is why the parenthetical note says assumes no wind - Flight path markers on attitude indicators are almost always depicted relative to the ground) . This is important, especially as any reference to angle of climb can potentially confuse the issue, as generally that is measured relative to the ground, not the airmass. $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2022 at 1:39
  • $\begingroup$ @CharlesBretana I've edited it slightly. $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2022 at 2:14

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