[Ref. Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, FAA-H-8083-25B Page 7-36,7-37]


Decompression is defined as the inability of the aircraft’s pressurization system to maintain its designed pressure
differential. This can be caused by a malfunction in the pressurization system or structural damage to the aircraft.

  • Loss of pressure is a significant issue – and potentially dangerous

Physiologically, decompressions fall into the following two (2) categories:

  1. Explosive decompression (more danger)
    —  change in cabin pressure faster than the lungs can decompress, possibly resulting in lung damage.
  2. Rapid decompression
    — change in cabin pressure in which the lungs decompress faster than the cabin

Danger of decompressions:

  • Hypoxia (primary danger)
  • Evolved gas decompression sickness
  • Being tossed or blown out of the aircraft ,if decompression caused by structural damage of the aircraft
  • Expose pilots, crew, and passengers to wind blasts and extremely cold temperatures ,if decompression caused by structural damage of the aircraft

WHAT actions and response should pilots take in case decompression?

  • The pilots will commence a rapid descent to an altitude no higher than 10,000 feet – safety altitude – don’t get into panic if the emergency descent feels perilously fast
  • Even over mountains, there’s always the opportunity follow predetermined depressurisation routes to reach a safe altitude before supplemental oxygen runs out.


Read More:

# WHY airplanes need to be pressurized?

# WHAT is pressurized airplanes?

# HOW does a pressurization system work?

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