Step Climbing

Hi IFC, there are many topics related to step climbing all over the forums and I’m finding them difficult to get my head around. I understand that step climbing helps improve fuel economy by moving into thinner air as an aircraft becomes lighter and capable of doing so. If I want to implement this into my flight in order to achieve a more realistic experience on long hauls, is there a certain way that I should go about this? I’m not too keen on using websites such a sim brief as I find them to be quite a hassle. Please let me know what the recommended time intervals would be to climb and the recommended VS when using for example, an aircraft such as the Airbus A350-900 and flying west bound, starting at an altitude of around 32,000 feet. Also when doing overnight long hauls while sleeping, how do many of you go about this?

I would wait a couple hours, usually. Obviously if you are asleep, that’s completely understandable, but if not, maybe start 4-5 hours into the flight. It all depends on what aircraft you are flying, as well as the load of the aircraft. I’ve seen some people set the target altitude and a VS of 100 (an 8000 ft climb to 40000 would take 1 hour and 20 minutes), but I don’t do that personally, since you may run into traffic (flying into active airspaces).

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When I do my long hauls, I just have it charging with a Apple Charger! I highly recommend using this if you have a Apple Device! Then I turn down the brightness on my device. But I don’t step climb! I know it’s not realistic, but it’s the safest way to complete a long haul


Thanks you. :) I mean when doing long hauls for example overnights (as you sleep), how do you step climb if you’re obviously not going to be at your device, since you’re sleeping?

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There are third party apps which have an LNAV/NVAV function which are incredibly useful for long hauls

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Try using this! It has a full, complete VNAV feature that allows for ascents and descents!

It costs you some money, but it’s definitely worth it in my opinion. I have been using this for over a year and I can say, you can sleep easy with this. I’ve gone to bed at say FL320 and woken up with the aircraft at FL380 and FL400, having gone through the step climb, perfectly and in one piece 😉

Not only that, but there are some other cool features including auto-filling V-speeds, as well as cabin announcements and a virtual Co-Pilot with readouts!


I personally don’t step climb, but some people set an alarm in the middle of the night and then step climb to another altitude. But there’s supposed to be VNAV for climbing coming out soon! So you would select a waypoint and assign an altitude to that waypoint, and then it would climb for you.

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What VS would you recommended? Obviously that of 100fpm, taking 1 hour and 20 minutes would be too long, especially if flying into an active airspace.

Typically, you are only climbing about 2,000 feet. So 100ft/min means you would be climbing for 20 minutes continuously. This is realistic and takes this long.

1hr and 20mins means you are climbing 8000 feet, which is to much to perform in a step-climb all at once

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That sounds pretty neat.

Thanks so much! I think I was talking to you recently on another topic I made about fuel consumption regarding the 747. Remember I descended to FL320 after you corrected me for flying at an odd altitude west bound? 😂 At the moment I’m flying a long haul on a Cathay Pacific A350 from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv. I’m 1 hour and 35 minutes into my flight with 8 hours and 19 minutes to go. Should I start a step climb to FL340 with a VS of 100fpm for example when I’m about 5 and a half hours away from my destination?

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Realistically, the flight should be finishing between FL380-FL400. Here is a sample flight plan with the altitudes:

With step-climbing, the waypoints that have a change in the flight level mean that by that waypoint, you have to be at that altitude.

In addition, there are some airspace restrictions that you have to adhere to. For example, Chinese Airspace mandates that flights be at altitudes that are by the 100s (ie: 34,100 instead of just 34,000).

Another tidbit of realism: any aircraft inbound to TLV cannot use Saudi airspace, which is why the flight plan takes you northward.


Thanks for heping! I’ve attached an image of my route to Tel Aviv, I’ve have ensured that I‘m not invading Saudi territory. :) Also changed my altitude to meet the Chinese airspace requirements, it’s really interesting. If you don’t mind me asking, is there any other airspace restrictions that I should be aware of? How do I find out about all these for future flights in order to ensure a more realistic experience? I know about some for example, some aircraft choose not to fly over Iran, many airlines are required not to fly over eastern Ukraine and Qatar Airways has to fly through the Persian gulf avoiding certain middle eastern airspaces.

  • All aircrafts with Israeli registration (or bound for Israel) are not allowed to pass through Arabian peninsula, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan
  • All commercial aircrafts should avoid North Korea airspace (For flights that don’t come from/to North Korean airports)
  • Aircrafts are not allowed to pass above the Himalayas due to high terrains
  • All Avianca flights aren’t allowed to enter Venezuelan airspace
  • All Taiwanese aircrafts are banned from Chinese airspace and vice versa

I think that’s all what I can think of apart from those you mentioned above. And what @Aniket_Joglekar said below ;)


Yeah of course! You got most of them. The only prominent ones other than those you mentioned are when flying through the African continent, Tripoli airspace (so all of Libya) is prohibited, and then of course you have North Korean Airspace restrictions. The last one is that certain airlines cannot fly through Russian airspace due to specialized codes and access grants that the Russian gov’t gives out. I recommend watching this video to learn more about Russian flight tracks:

Most of these will come to memory by looking at flight plans from Simbrief as well as purging flight radar 24 a lot! 😂


Keep in mind too though that if you generate a flight plan though SimBrief, then it will automatically take these restrictions into account while maximizing fuel efficiency.

For example, during the early months of 2019, Pakistani airspace was restricted to all flights inbound to India. I made a topic about it a long time ago. But what was amazing was that SimBrief took this into account and generated realistic flight plans without you having to modify them. Obviously, it reverted back to the pre-closure plans which utilize Pakistani airspace after those restriction IRL were lifted, but it was cool to implement into the sim while it lasted!

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Thanks so much @Aniket_Joglekar and @George, I really appreciate it. I’ve made a list in my notes so that I can look back anytime when I’m trying to understand which airspace’s restrictions I need to abide by in the future. :)


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