Why don't commercial planes fly higher to get into space?

The higher the flight, the more fuel-efficient the aircraft, the faster and quieter the flight. But they can’t go into space because of some design limitations.

According to ScienceABC, commercial aircraft usually fly stably at an altitude of 10,700m above the ground. This is considered the ideal altitude to help airlines save money, fly faster and safer.

There are three main reasons to explain this.

The higher you fly, the thinner the air density . This reduces the drag of the aircraft. Besides, the air pressing down on the fuselage is also lower than the lifting air.

At the same time, the plane also has to move faster to get more lift from the air. So when traveling at high altitude, the plane will consume less fuel and fly faster.

Why don't commercial planes fly higher to get into space?
Because of some design limitations, civil aircraft cannot fly into space.

Another reason is comfort. An aircraft can fly at an altitude of 10,700 – 42,000 m above the ground. Weather phenomena have the greatest influence at an altitude of 0-10,700 m.

If flying at this altitude, the aircraft will not be greatly affected by that weather turbulence. This helps passengers experience a smoother and more comfortable flight.

The last reason is for everyone’s safety. In the event that the plane is at 11,900 m and something happens to the engine, the pilots will have more time to troubleshoot and contact the control center before making an emergency landing.

Most modern aircraft have very good crash response systems. People often think that when the engine fails, the plane will go into free fall. But the truth is not so. The plane will glide forward .

Why don't commercial planes fly higher to get into space?
Air turbulence due to terrain will not affect the aircraft if it reaches a safe altitude.

For each m drop, the plane will hover 16-17m forward. Thus, from the time of engine failure at an altitude of 10,000m until landing, the aircraft can go another 160km.

This allows the pilot to direct the plane to the nearest airport for an emergency landing. Thus, flying higher will help airplanes save, safe and faster.

Besides, flying at an altitude of 10km above sea level will prevent the plane from hitting birds in the sky. Civilian aircraft models can reach speeds above 900 km/h. Hitting a bird can be equivalent to hitting a bullet traveling at 1,220 km/h.

On January 15, 2009, a US Airways Airbus 320 with flight number 1549 had to land in the Hudson River after hitting a bird while just taking off from LaGuardia Airport, New York.

Why don't commercial planes fly higher to get into space?
US Airways Flight 1549 had to land in a river after hitting a bird.

So why doesn’t the plane fly higher and faster than the upper bound?

The higher you fly, the thinner the air becomes. So the plane has to accelerate to get enough air to help lift the wings. At some point, the speed of flight will equal the speed of sound. This breaks through the sound wall, creating a shock wave that destroys commercial aircraft.

There are some aircraft that are designed to fly faster than the speed of sound. However, these types of aircraft serve scientific and military purposes and are not used to carry passengers, with the exception of the French Concorde and the Soviet Tu-144. After a number of accidents, these two types of aircraft were both discontinued.

In addition, if you fly in thin air, the plane’s engine will not have enough oxygen to ignite. As the air density decreases, the thrust of the engine also decreases.