Ear pain while flight landing/takeoff

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  • #1
jobyts
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Why do we get ear pain while flight landing or take off? The common answer I get is due to the pressure change. Are we saying we have not yet developed a technology to quickly adjust the pressure?
 

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  • #2
russ_watters
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It isn't a matter of technology, it is a matter of cost. Holding the pressure constant requires a stronger, heavier and more expensive cabin.
 
  • #3
dlgoff
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It isn't a matter of technology, ...

Well, one could have a relief valve surgically installed. :devil:
 
  • #4
Maui
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Some airplanes are much better than others in this respect. I can feel no ear pain in B777's and i feel terrible in A320's.
 
  • #5
Mech_Engineer
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The planes are only pressurized to about 10.1 psia (equivalent 10,000ft asl) while cruising. This means there has to be a drop in pressure from where you take off, but between 10,000ft altitude and cruising altitude pressure is controlled. Ever notice you ears don't really pop once you've passed 10,000 ft?
 
  • #6
jobyts
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It isn't a matter of technology, it is a matter of cost. Holding the pressure constant requires a stronger, heavier and more expensive cabin.

I do not think it is due to the lack of strength and weight of the cabin. When the flight is in the high altitude, there is no problem in the pressure. If it has to do with the strength of the cabin, the issue should be seen all the time.

My educated guess is that the pressure control systems are unable to act as real time as needed, which is also surprising.
 
  • #7
Evo
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Not everyone is affected by the pressure changes, and many only if they are suffering from a cold or similar sinus problems, I used to fly frequently and the only time I had a problem was the one time I flew with a cold.

If the eustachian tube is blocked, the air pressure in the middle ear is different than the pressure on the outside of the eardrum. This causes barotrauma.

Many people experience barotrauma at some time. Barotrauma commonly occurs with altitude changes, such as flying, scuba diving, or driving in the mountains. If you have a congested nose from allergies, colds, or an upper respiratory infection, you are more likely to develop barotrauma.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001064.htm
 
  • #8
Ivan Seeking
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Why do we get ear pain while flight landing or take off? The common answer I get is due to the pressure change. Are we saying we have not yet developed a technology to quickly adjust the pressure?

Boeing's new 787 is designed to maintain higher cabin pressures and higher humidity than traditional aircraft.

The internal cabin pressure of the 787 is increased to the equivalent of 6,000 feet (1,800 m) altitude instead of the 8,000 feet (2,400 m) on older conventional aircraft.[212] According to Boeing, in a joint study with Oklahoma State University, this will significantly improve passenger comfort.[174][213] Cabin air pressurization is provided by electrically driven compressors, rather than traditional engine-bleed air, thereby eliminating the need to cool heated air before it enters the cabin.[214][215]

The cabin's humidity is programmable based on the number of passengers carried, and allows 15% humidity settings instead of the 4% found in previous aircraft.[212] The composite fuselage avoids the metal fatigue associated with higher cabin pressure, and eliminates the risk of corrosion from higher humidity levels.[212]

The cabin air-conditioning system improves air quality by removing ozone from outside air, and besides standard HEPA filters which remove airborne particles, uses a gaseous filtration system to remove odors, irritants, and gaseous contaminants as well as particulates like viruses, bacteria and allergens.[168][216]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_787_Dreamliner
 
  • #9
Ivan Seeking
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I do not think it is due to the lack of strength and weight of the cabin. When the flight is in the high altitude, there is no problem in the pressure. If it has to do with the strength of the cabin, the issue should be seen all the time.

My educated guess is that the pressure control systems are unable to act as real time as needed, which is also surprising.

The number of pressure cycles plays a significant role in the life of an aircraft due to metal fatigue. Less pressure means less fatigue and more pressure cycles are possible. This problem apparently goes away to some extent by using a carbon-fiber body.
 
  • #10
Andre
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I do not think it is due to the lack of strength and weight of the cabin. When the flight is in the high altitude, there is no problem in the pressure. If it has to do with the strength of the cabin, the issue should be seen all the time.

Actually it was the series of disasters with the Comets that revealed the cabin pressure - metal fatique problem.
 
  • #11
russ_watters
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I do not think it is due to the lack of strength and weight of the cabin. When the flight is in the high altitude, there is no problem in the pressure. If it has to do with the strength of the cabin, the issue should be seen all the time.

My educated guess is that the pressure control systems are unable to act as real time as needed, which is also surprising.
Though it was already explained somewhat, you're not understanding what is happening. Let me expand:

The fact that the cabin pressure is maintained at 10 psi while at high altitude means that when the plane takes off, the cabin pressure is allowed to "float" from sea level pressure down to 10psi. Then once it reaches 10psi naturally, cabin pressurization control kicks-in to keep the cabin pressure constant for the rest of the trip (until it descends again). The cabin pressure was purposely chosen to be less than atmospheric pressure.

Tight/accurate pressure control is not the issues. If it were, this issue wouldn't just be seen during takeoff and landing, but would be seen all the time.
 
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