Airplanes have cabin air systems that regulate air flow, air filtration, temperature, and pressurization. The objective of these systems is to deliver a secure cabin environment, and to protect all cabin dwellers from physiological risks of high altitudes. State-of-the-art airplanes are now flying at increasingly high altitudes, thereby increasing increase the physiological risks involved with decompression.
Decompression takes place when insufficient oxygen is supplied to the body. Most cabin occupants suffer from decompression when an unpressurized aircraft flies at or above an altitude of 10,000 feet, the legal ceiling above which oxygen must be used by flight crew members in unpressurized aircraft (Wolff, 2006). Hypoxia is the greatest risk to both passengers and crew members. For example, on August 14, 2005, Helios Airways Flight 522 operating a Boeing 737-300 experienced a probable cause of slow decompression in the cabin, killing 121 passengers. This accident suggested that aviation professionals still need more training on the effective management and identification of decompression.
The purposes of this research paper are to identify the different types of decompression, educate cabin and flight crew members on the role of human factors in aviation safety and the importance of taking proper precautions to manage decompression effectively, define and describe the physiological and psychological effects of hypoxia and describe cabin decompression procedures and prevention strategies.
Types of Decompression.
This paper will discuss two types of decompression, explosive and slow decompression, also known as uncontrolled decompression. Cabin decompression can be caused by letting the cabin air flow outside the airplane; it may result in a loss of windows, impairment of the airplane, or a pressurization system breakdown. In the event of a small air outflow, the loss of pressurization can be very slow.