British Midland flight BMA92 left Heathrow Airport for Belfast at 1952 hrs with 8 crew and 118 passengers (including 1…
Cruise is the level portion of aircraft travel where flight is most fuel efficient. It occurs between ascent and descent phases and is usually the majority of a journey. Technically, cruising consists of heading (direction of flight) changes only at a constant airspeed and altitude. It ends as the aircraft approaches the destination where the descent phase of flight commences in preparation for landing.
For most commercial passenger aircraft, the cruise phase of flight consumes the majority of fuel. As this lightens the aircraft considerably, higher altitudes are more efficient for additional fuel economy. However, for operational and air traffic control reasons it is necessary to stay at the cleared flight level. On long haul flights, the pilot may climb from one flight level to a higher one as clearance is requested and given from air traffic control. This maneuver is called a step climb.