Flights: Pilot reveals what happens if a plane loses cabin pressure – is it safe? | Travel News | Travel

Flights take off and land without problems the vast majority of the time but passengers do still worry about what can go wrong. Cabin pressurisation is something that both concerns and confuses passengers. When pressure is lost, people imagine the plane plummeting to the ground, oxygen masks dropping for the ceiling and hysteria spreading. But what actually happens when the pressure drops? Is it as serious as dramatic films might make it out to be?

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Flights: Pilot reveals what happens if a plane loses pressurisation – should you panic?

Loss of pressure in a plane can come from a hole or leak and results in loss of oxygen.

Pilots then need to get the aircraft down to a safe altitude where everyone can breathe normally.

Loss of pressure could be caused by a bomb and destroy the plane in the worst case scenario. However, the vast majority of decompressions are not the explosive kind.

In fact, cabin decompression is actually not nearly as bad as one might think – and crew are trained to handles such situations.

A pilot told Express.co.uk: “For a depressurisation, we will perform a memory drill called an emergency descent.

“This effectively puts the aircraft into a safe decent as quickly as possible but as safely as possible.

Flights: When pressure is lost, people imagine the plane plummeting to the ground (Image: Getty Images)Flights: Oxygen masks will fall from the plane’s ceiling when the cabin pressure falls (Image: Getty Images)

“As pilots, we would put on our oxygen masks before doing anything to make sure we are both safe to breathe.

“The decent continues down to below 14,000ft where the air is safe to breathe.”

Oxygen masks will fall from the plane’s ceiling when the cabin pressure falls below a certain threshold.

The pilot also recommended what passengers should do in such a situation.

“I would advise not to panic as the crew are trained for it. Put your oxygen mask on and try to remain calm,” he said.

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Another pilot who spoke to Express.co.uk warned such situations could be “painful,” but that his advice would be “to listen very carefully to the cabin crew demonstration at the start of the flight rather than being on a phone.”

When the plane descends rapidly during a depressurisation it could well feel scary.

However, passengers shouldn’t worry. “If the descent feels perilously fast, this isn’t because the plane is crashing,” pilot Patrick Smith said in his book Cockpit Confidential.

“It’s because the crew is doing what it’s supposed to do. It might be jarring, but a high-speed emergency descent is not unsafe by itself.”

Smith added: “Crashes or fatalities from pressure problems are extremely uncommon, even with a fairly rapid decompression brought on by a hole or puncture.”

What many people don’t know is that oxygen masks only provide enough oxygen for 20 minutes maximum – but should this worry you? 

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