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Airliner crashes due to decompression failure ?

  1. Aug 19, 2005 #1
    If an airliner looses it's air supply in flight (decompression) and
    crashes as we read about last week and all of the people were found
    EXCEPT the pilot I wonder what actually happened. What if the pilot
    wanted to crash the aircraft,for some reason, and had a plan to do
    it as follows: (1) Hide a parachute onboard the plane,(2) hide a supply of oxygen onboard,with mask(3)Sabotage the aircraft's main oxygen supply. If this "James Bond movie-like scenario was actually carried out
    could a man exit the plane in flight or would the air pressure keep
    the door of this jet sealed?(Some jet aircraft can be parachuted from while
    in flight as this appeared to happen several years ago with that guy
    whose name escapes me now.)What do you pilots think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 19, 2005 #2
    I'm not a pilot, but I don't think that a commercial airline pilot would want to do such a thing, there would be nothing to gain by intentionally crashing the flight and ejecting over unoccupied terrain.

    What most likely happened in the most recent crash was a decompression failure in which the oxygen partial pressure was reduced to/below 16% (standard air mixture is 20.9% oxygen and 79% at 1 atmosphere absolute) and 16% is not enough to sustain life... ergo the pilot (and the copilot) passed out, and so did the majority of the passengers. The pilot in this case probably wasn't missing, but perhaps passed out on the floor of the aircraft where the escort fighter jets could not see him.

    The scenario you did point out, however, was used I believe in a few Hollywood action movies (more than one I bet). It doesn't really seem feasable in real life though, because the copilot would probably notice the erratic behavior of the pilot.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2005
  4. Aug 19, 2005 #3
    Air is more like 20.9% O2 and 79% nitrogen, not 70.9%.

    As far as being able to jump out of an airplane that is de-pressurized at high altitude there would be no problems. Most likely if you opened one of the doors it would be sucked open from the outside as the air outside would be moving much faster than that inside the plane causing a low pressure area.

    I assume you are referring to D.B. Cooper (I think that was his name) who allegedly parachuted out of an airliner with the loot.
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