What should my cruising altitude be for small/regional flights

So small flights consists of say I was in the Chicago region and I fly from KORD to KMKE (that is a small flight) and I fly with a commercial airliner (Dash 8, A319). Because it’s a small/regional flight, what should my cruising altitude be?
The altitude needs to be suitable for a commercial airliner. And it can’t be too high otherwise my descent will be a nose dive!

I’ve played IF for along time and I’ve never done a short flight with a commercial airliner! I always do long haul in big regions. So if this seems like a stupid question coming from me, now you know why!

I just need a rough answer (i.e. Between 10,000 and 15,000 feet)

Thanks guys!🙂

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I would do 18,000 feet maybe.

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15,000ft maybe

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Honestly, I probably wouldn’t go higher than 10,000ft on that short a flight. (And neither does American Airlines)

Here you go.


yeah 10,500ft maybe

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To work out your flight level best trick I have learned is to take the total distance of your flight ( as per your flight plan) then decide that by 7.

To work out your Top of Descent ( roughly) take your flight level and devide by 3 to get your distance to go when you start to desend.

example :


200/7= 28.57= FL290



290/3 = 96.6

Therefore start your descend when 97 nm to go!


Thanks! This is super helpful! 😄

Average flight between these two airports appears to be around 95 nmi, so we’ll go with 14,000ft here using those calculations which puts TOD @ 47nmi.

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This is a good equation to solve it, but what would Vertical Speed be for both ascent and descent?

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What would ur Vs be and how does that take into account speed unless we are adjusting speed as we go


1.) What should be my ascending VS?
2.) What should be my descending VS?
3.) What FL should I descend to?


You should probobly descend to about 1000-2000 ft if you begin descending just a little bit earlier, or to 0ft, as to make the runway

So many questions!! :-)

These are speeds and VS that I have worked out myself as a guide. On each occasion it depends on what other traffic is doing, ATC, weight of aircraft etc. but start with these figures as a starting point for all jet aircraft.


  1. Below 10000ft, VS 3000 & 250 Kts.
  2. above 10000ft VS 2500 & 305 Kts
  3. above FL280 VS 1500 & M0.81

Descent: I descend in blocks:

  1. From Cruise to FL120 = VS -2500, Sp M0.69 / 260 Kts
  2. FL120 -6000 ft = VS -1500 Sp 240 Kts ( need to be at FL120 42nm to go)
  3. 6000ft-3000ft = VS -1000 Sp 220 Kts ( need to be at 6000 24nm to go)
  4. 3000ftv to landing VS -600 ft, Sp 180kts slow down to about 145 for landing ( depending on aircraft) ( need to be at 3000 by 12nm to go)

What is TOD?

TOD is Top of Descent @Capt.teddy

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Thanks, what does this mean?
I don’t mean to sound dumb

When you first start your descent from your cruise @Capt.teddy. That is TOD I think


Ok thanks for the help :)

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That is correct. TOD = Top of Descent = when you start to come down from your climb altitude.


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