As the long-range and ultra-long-range non-stop commercial flights slowly turn into reality, the accurate characterization and optimization of flight trajectories become even more essential.
The Earth is not a perfect sphere and due to rotational and gravitational effects the shape is more of an oblate spheroid
Due to the economy of flight, we are particularly interested in the shortest distances between two arbitrary points on Earth.
In a flight path from New York to Madrid, if I asked you which line is shorter, you’d say the straight one, right?
However, a straight line in a 2-dimensional map is not the same as a straight line on a 3-dimensional globe. This is why flight paths take an arc route between an origin and a destination.
Now here’s how the same flight paths look like on a sphere.
We can navigate in at least three different manners depending on what kind of flight are we going to perform or plan:
Finally, there is one special route which takes advantage of upper winds currents flow called jetstreams: North Atlantic Tracks or called scientifically brachistochrone routes.
To make such efficiencies possible, the routes are created twice daily to take account of the shifting of the winds aloft and the principal traffic flow, eastward in North America evening and westward twelve hours later.
But we will cope this argument better in the next lesson.
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