Absolute Ceiling vs. Service Ceiling

February, 25, 2021 by

Also called Coffin Corner, the Absolute Ceiling is the height above sea level where the aircraft can climb no higher due to 1) no excess of power and 2) only one speed that allows a steady and level flight.

The Service Ceiling is the maximum altitude at which the aircraft can maintain a specified rate of climb (often 500 feet/minute). This is typically set in order to provide a safety margin below the aircraft’s Absolute Ceiling.

Luca Caviness is an editor for the IFATC Education Group and an IFATC Supervisor. He is also a real-world student pilot.