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Old 01-08-2008, 03:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: San Jose
Posts: 319

Pablo - '07 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD
90 day: 23.62 mpg (US)
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Only a private pilot, but I think that only Albatrosses and glider pilots are the only real hypermilerpilots... the rest have a bit less than a 100% focus on energy conservation.

All planes have clear specifications that are quite specific on what ranges/FE they have at what airspeeds - unlike cars where it is some weird avg done on a dyno. You don't typically take any more fuel that what you'd need for a 45 minute reserve so when doing your flight plan you are extremely aware of wind speeds and directions and various altitudes and plan exactly and accordingly. The jetstream is used when favorable and avoided when unfavorable. The exchange between saved fuel and extra time would be an operational decision.

ATC controllers tend to be the bane of good mileage for airliners. They'll give them a set speed on a set vector and want the pilots traveling that speed without too much delay. Planes glide down from the cruising altitudes where thinner air helps range... few non-military planes have speed brakes, so descents are economical and well executed. Once in the pattern, planes typically fly at very inefficient speeds (flaps down)... so that planes of differing speeds are overrunning each other. In fact most commercial planes even need to use power when descending -- but it does help control and you can't control the wind when you are aiming to touchdown at a particular spot.

Planes often get straight in approaches when traffic allows. The tough part I have found is that typically all of your pre-landing checks are down on the downwind leg in slow level flight and you get used to doing it that way. When trying to do the same while maintaining a glide scope, it's change and can get a bit more intense. You are often very close before you realize you need to even start them.
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