2 thoughts on “West-to-East in both directions”

  1. The definition of “shortest” depends upon the reference frame in which you’re reckoning distance.  The ground track plotted on the Earth’s surface will vary in distance with the route, but the airliner doesn’t travel over the Earth’s surface—it moves through the air, which is moving with respect to the surface.  Thus, the distance the plane actually travels through that medium is best measured by integrating true air speed over the path.  This is the distance which matters when it comes to fuel burn, block time end-to-end, and engine time on wing before overhaul.

    Choosing the best route based upon prevailing winds is actually finding the shortest distance through the air mass between the point of departure and the destination.


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