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A Study of the Selection of Flight Paths in Air Transport Operations


Rockefeller, William Curtis (1934) A Study of the Selection of Flight Paths in Air Transport Operations. Master's thesis, California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/2ZSP-A355.



With the introduction of the modern high perfor­mance airplane into the air transportation systems of the country it has become increasingly necessary to make some study of the variables which influence the proper selection of flight paths for the efficient operation of the aircraft.

In the past it has been the practice in the air transport industry to make a very rough estimate of the ef­fect of the winds and thus determine the best altitude at which to fly on the course. There has been a complete neg­lect of the possibilities which are presented by a considera­tion of the airplane performance.

It is the purpose of this thesis to analize the effects of all of these variables with a view to obtaining some practical knowledge which may be valuable to the air transportation industry.


The problem in general is the following: To provide a means of quickly determining before the start of a flight the path which the pilot should follow in order to fly between any two points in the minimum possible time. Thus for a given set of cruising specifications for the air­plane, this path becomes the optimum, not only for time elapsed, but also for economy of operation. The method must take into account both aerodynamic and meteorological varia­tions.

To be of practical use in air transport operation the method provided must have three definite qualifications.

1. It must be such as to be readily calculated for a given flight by a person completely unfamiliar with aerodynamics and airplane performance.

2. It must not require more than a few minutes to calculate for a given flight.

3. It must be such that the data can be presented to the pilot in a brief and useful form.

In addition to the above it is highly desirable to provide information which will be of use to the pilot in properly navigating the airplane along the course.

All of the above requirements have been carefully considered throughout the analysis and the attempt has been made to incorporate them into the resulting method to as great an extent as possible.

Item Type:Thesis (Master's thesis)
Subject Keywords:Aeronautics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Aeronautics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Unknown, Unknown
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:1 January 1934
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10242017-090415553
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10536
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:24 Oct 2017 16:46
Last Modified:16 Aug 2023 23:11

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