• NC Software is having a Black Friday Sale Event thru December 4th on Logbook Pro, APDL - Airline Pilot Logbook, Cirrus Elite Binders, and more. Use coupon code BF2020 at checkout to redeem 15% off your purchase. Click here to shop now.
  • NC Software is proud to announce the release of APDL - Airline Pilot Logbook version 10.0. Click here to view APDL on the Apple App store and install now.

Mach to Airspeed Transition

Terry Hunter

Silence!
Joined
Nov 22, 2004
Posts
297
Total Time
<0>
ATC Guru's:
When a controller says "maintain 300 knots during the transition", what is the transition point at which the controller is referring to? I presume at a certain altitude and above, that ATC wants speed in Mach?

Thanks.
TH
 

Choppy

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 6, 2005
Posts
189
Total Time
8800
Basically hold a certian mach number until you get to 300 kts indicated and then hold 300 kts. Altitude will maybe be different each time.
 

J.Otto

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 1, 2005
Posts
1,524
Total Time
.
usually the mid 20's
 

macdu

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 28, 2005
Posts
276
Total Time
?
Usually, between FL27/28 depending on the temperature.
 

Mercy98

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 21, 2003
Posts
70
Total Time
15000
Generally, aircraft that cruise at FL300 and above, and normally cruise at .75M and above have an indicated speed in the low to mid 200kt range. As they descend, they fly a constant Mach number, but the indicated speed increases. Once that Mach number matches a particular indicated speed, then that indicated speed is maintained.

The Mach number cannot be maintained at some point because it eventually will increase above the barber pole. There's no flying above that of course.

Typical indicated speeds that are maintained range from 280-340kt. If ATC wants a particular speed, so be it. Hope that helps.
 

pilotyip

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
13,629
Total Time
14000
FL240, the transition altitude between the highand low sectors. Above 240 Mach, below IAS
 

BillJBrake

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 18, 2008
Posts
156
Total Time
17.3
macdu is correct, between FL270 and FL280. Technically a mach number can be assigned lower than that, and an indicated airspeed higher than that, but it's usually only if they're climbing/descending into the preferred regime.

PilotYip, not sure where you get FL240 from but that's a bit low to be used as a "standard". There isn't an arbitrary transition altitude between high and low sectors.
 

Mike man

Funk Master Flex
Joined
Oct 8, 2003
Posts
1,387
Total Time
5000+
Generally, aircraft that cruise at FL300 and above, and normally cruise at .75M and above have an indicated speed in the low to mid 200kt range. As they descend, they fly a constant Mach number, but the indicated speed increases. Once that Mach number matches a particular indicated speed, then that indicated speed is maintained.

The Mach number cannot be maintained at some point because it eventually will increase above the barber pole. There's no flying above that of course.

Typical indicated speeds that are maintained range from 280-340kt. If ATC wants a particular speed, so be it. Hope that helps.

What a terrific explanation...good job
 

pilotyip

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
13,629
Total Time
14000
Taught in Ground School

macdu is correct, between FL270 and FL280. Technically a mach number can be assigned lower than that, and an indicated airspeed higher than that, but it's usually only if they're climbing/descending into the preferred regime.

PilotYip, not sure where you get FL240 from but that's a bit low to be used as a "standard". There isn't an arbitrary transition altitude between high and low sectors.

http://www.faa.gov/library/manuals/aviation/instrument_procedures_handbook/media/CH-03.pdf

ATC issues speed adjustments if you are being radar controlled to achieve or maintain required or desired spacing. They express speed adjustments in terms of except that at or above FL 240 speeds may be expressed in terms of Mach numbers in 0.01 increments. The use of Mach numbers by ATC is restricted to turbojets. If complying with speed adjustments, pilots are expected to maintain that speed within plus or minus 10 knots or 0.02 Mach.
 

stupidpilot

Registered Moron
Joined
Sep 6, 2005
Posts
10,813
Total Time
Alot
http://www.faa.gov/library/manuals/aviation/instrument_procedures_handbook/media/CH-03.pdf

ATC issues speed adjustments if you are being radar controlled to achieve or maintain required or desired spacing. They express speed adjustments in terms of except that at or above FL 240 speeds may be expressed in terms of Mach numbers in 0.01 increments. The use of Mach numbers by ATC is restricted to turbojets. If complying with speed adjustments, pilots are expected to maintain that speed within plus or minus 10 knots or 0.02 Mach.
Oops! The aircraft fueler gets smoked again! Thanks for playing!
 

BillJBrake

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 18, 2008
Posts
156
Total Time
17.3
PilotYip,

Did you read my first paragraph? I said exactly that, mach numbers can be assigned lower than FL270-280 (legally FL240 is the lowest, as you pointed out). The only point I questioned you on is that FL240 is a transition altitude between high and low altitude sectors, which is incorrect. There is no arbitrary altitude on that.

Your post only reinforces that fact that FL240 is the lowest a controller can assign a mach number ("may assign..." higher than that) which I never questioned.

Stupidpilot, if you think I got smoked, I'd love to hear you lecture me on this stuff. I'm glad you take my Avatar for face value!!
 

stupidpilot

Registered Moron
Joined
Sep 6, 2005
Posts
10,813
Total Time
Alot
PilotYip,

Did you read my first paragraph? I said exactly that, mach numbers can be assigned lower than FL270-280 (legally FL240 is the lowest, as you pointed out). The only point I questioned you on is that FL240 is a transition altitude between high and low altitude sectors, which is incorrect. There is no arbitrary altitude on that.
Oh really? Is that why they always climb you to FL230, and then you get a freq change prior to climbing above that? I would define that as a transition. If you don't know what you're talking about don't chime in.
 

pilotyip

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
13,629
Total Time
14000
a litte touchy are we?

PilotYip,

Did you read my first paragraph? I said exactly that, mach numbers can be assigned lower than FL270-280 (legally FL240 is the lowest, as you pointed out). The only point I questioned you on is that FL240 is a transition altitude between high and low altitude sectors, which is incorrect. There is no arbitrary altitude on that.
you asked for a source, I posted one. Would you like me to post one on the boundry between the high and low sectors? Heck I remember glying with there were no hi or low sectors and they still had aural ranges in the SW US and I had to train on flying A and N sectors to get my insturment rating. I would love to see Avbug chime in on this one
 
Last edited:

avbug

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Posts
7,602
Total Time
n/a
I think the subject has been covered, but we're also hearing correctly about two different subjects.

The issue of FL240 is one subject, for ATC phraseology with respect to assigning mach or indicated. It refers primarily to a general guideline as to whether ATC will give an assignment based on mach or indicated airspeed. In general, ATC will assign a mach speed above 240, and indicated below, but this isn't always the case, and this isn't the value to which the question posed by the original poster refers.

The issue of maintaining 300 KIAS at the transition doesn't refer to FL240. It's referring to riding mach during the descent until indicated airspeed reaches a predetermined value, then maintaining that value. In this case, 300 KIAS.

This is a common descent profile, and one I typically use. .84 M1 until transition, then 300 KIAS in the descent until 10'000' or any other restrictions apply.
 

SELCAL checks

Registered Abuser
Joined
Jul 10, 2004
Posts
91
Total Time
10k
The 230-240 HI/LOW sector boundary is probably the most common, but not the rule. e.g. Denver Center. Plenty of other exceptions as well.

As a rule of thumb, ATC assigns IAS FL280 and below and Mach FL290 and above.
 
Last edited:

BillJBrake

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 18, 2008
Posts
156
Total Time
17.3
Stupidpilot, you obviously haven't flown to enough regions of the country, I could name NUMEROUS center sectors that go above/below FL240. There are plenty of areas where the separation from high/low sectors is FL280, and the ultra-highs start at FL330. But you knew that...right?

As avbug is saying, there are two questions at hand: when can Mach be assigned, and when do can pilots (or are they required) switch from Mach to Airspeed, vice versa. In the descent, FL270-280 seems pretty standard, but atc will often assign an airspeed at a higher altitude, knowing he's transitioning down and mach numbers may be assigned at FL240 and above, but are usually only assigned below FL280 if they plane is climbing higher (as I mentioned in post #8).

Randy, my only claim to you initially was that FL240 is a bit low to be used as a standard (which is true, most people seem to transition between FL270-280) and that while you are correct ATC "may" assign a mach above FL240 (which I never argued) I also am disagreeing that FL240 is a definitive transition between high and low altitude sectors, at there are tons of sectors out there throughout the NAS that have stratifications higher and lower than that.

Avbug is right on the money...I've never been assigned a mach number at FL240, even though the controller can technically use it....if he's spacing me at FL240 with someone at FL320, there will be a large discrepancy in the mach#'s. Anything below FL280 as a requested final, and you're gonna see a KIAS assigned, imho.
 

pilotyip

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
13,629
Total Time
14000
no right or wrong

I think the subject has been covered, but we're also hearing correctly about two different subjects.

The issue of FL240 is one subject, for ATC phraseology with respect to assigning mach or indicated. It refers primarily to a general guideline as to whether ATC will give an assignment based on mach or indicated airspeed. In general, ATC will assign a mach speed above 240, and indicated below, but this isn't always the case, and this isn't the value to which the question posed by the original poster refers.

The issue of maintaining 300 KIAS at the transition doesn't refer to FL240. It's referring to riding mach during the descent until indicated airspeed reaches a predetermined value, then maintaining that value. In this case, 300 KIAS.

This is a common descent profile, and one I typically use. .84 M1 until transition, then 300 KIAS in the descent until 10'000' or any other restrictions apply.
so basically everyone is right and it boils down to do what ATC instructs, BTW I am ont going ot change my ground school slide, but wil ldiscuss it thanks for all the inoput
 

stupidpilot

Registered Moron
Joined
Sep 6, 2005
Posts
10,813
Total Time
Alot
Stupidpilot, you obviously haven't flown to enough regions of the country, I could name NUMEROUS center sectors that go above/below FL240. There are plenty of areas where the separation from high/low sectors is FL280, and the ultra-highs start at FL330. But you knew that...right?
Sure, I've flown all around the world in excess of 100X plus I've been flying for over 20 years. I guess I know nothing.
 

callowayhd

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 7, 2008
Posts
99
Total Time
23,000
Just to throw it out there at FL280 to FL290, 290KIAS-300KIAS ~ .73M-.75M

Most aircraft flying above FL290 climb and descend in the 290 knot range and descend using the same. Above FL280 or FL290 Mach is used for speeds during normal operations. If you climb at 290KIAS and transition to .74M, you will likely see a transition near the FL280-FL290 range.

As for FL240, in my opinion that has nothing to do with transition speeds. It is my understanding, as well as other previous posters, that maintain 300 KIAS in the transition means that when your current Mach number equals 300 KIAS, while descending, you maintain 300 kts. Since most aircraft cruise.75M-.80m This just happens arouns FL280-FL290. Again depending on ISA
 
Top