Asee peer logo

Breguet's Formulas For Aircraft Range & Endurance An Application Of Integral Calculus

Download Paper |


1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.90.1 - 1.90.5



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Major Robert R. Schulz

author page

Colonel Kip P. Nygren

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1265

Breguet's Formulas for Aircraft Range & Endurance An Application of Integral Calculus

Colonel Kip P. Nygren, Major Robert R. Schulz United States Military Academy


At the United States Military Academy, faculty attempt to expose cadets to highly integrated learning scenarios. In an effort to reinforce that the world is not compartmentalized similar to the academic environment, the Department of Mathematical Sciences conducts sessions known as Interactive Lively Applications Projects (ILAPs). In particular, the engineering curriculum provides an excellent base of support to highlight the applications of single and multivariable calculus.

This paper focuses on one such ILAP using the Breguet range and endurance equations as the foundation for some insight into the physical significance of integral calculus. In a recent semester, members of the Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering sponsored an ILAP where cadets Figure 1. Typical US Air Force Airplane learned how integral calculus supports airplane design.

Aircraft Performance Parameters

Knowledge of the requisite aircraft velocity for maximum range and maximum endurance operations is essential for air crews to optimize flight performance. Engineers focus on maximum range and maximum endurance characteristics to optimize the aircraft design for a specific mission. This information is also pivotal in the marketing of the aircraft. The need to understand maximum range and maximum endurance characteristics of an aircraft cannot be understated. Specific examples of aircraft designed for these conditions include Burt Rutan’s Voyager (maximum range), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (maximum endurance), U-2 reconnaissance aircraft (maximum range and altitude), and the P-3 Orion submarine hunter (maximum endurance).

At the most basic level, the range and endurance of an aircraft depend directly on the quantity of fuel available and the rate at which the fuel is consumed per distance traveled or per hour in the air. Given an unlimited amount of fuel, any aircraft could fly continuously until, of course, the aircraft experiences a failure. This is the concept of aerial refueling used by the U.S. Air Force. However, fuel availability for practical aircraft is limited. Therefore, the characteristics of the aircraft and the environment that affect the maximum range and endurance must be found. Such a situation involving several variables is a natural application of multivariable calculus. In addition, the total range and total endurance are functions of the aircraft weight, which is changing continuously as fuel is consumed.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Schulz, M. R. R., & Nygren, C. K. P. (1996, June), Breguet's Formulas For Aircraft Range & Endurance An Application Of Integral Calculus Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5901

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1996 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015