Could a pilot of an airliner incapacitate everyone outside the cockpit by somehow triggering a loss of cabin pressure while simultaneously disarming the airplane's oxygen masks, manipulating the air circulation system to induce hypoxia, or some other means?
For example, would it be a credible theory that the pilot de-pressurized the 777 flying Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and flew it off somewhere?
The answer depends on what kind of aircraft you're talking about, and how much control the crew has over the pressurization systems.
For example, in theory you could very well reduce or completely shut off the air to the cabin on a 777. This could also be done by a single crew member alone. The pilots have full control of this system should say the one of the engines produce bad air to that cabin and would needed to be switched off.
As for the oxygen masks- these are for emergency descent use and have a generator that runs out after about 15 minutes. The crew bottles last a bit longer I think, but these will also have a limit, and doing any attempt to break through the bullet-proof cockpit door in those conditions I'd imagine would be very difficult, since I'm not sure you're still picking up the amount of oxygen you normally would.
For a similar situation (though not a deliberate attempt) you can read up on Helios Airways Flight 522.
For an idea of how the pilot masks look, see this video.
Yes, I think it would be very easy for the pilot in command of a 777 to do this — here's one scenario:
At FL 450, consciousness is measured in seconds, death in about 4 or 5 minutes. I have never flown a 777, however.
Depressurization leads not only to the lack of oxygen in the cabin (and cockpit), but likewise may lead to a dramatic drop in temperature.
For altitudes above 38,000 - 65,000 feet, the outside temperature is roughly -70°F/-55°C. Combined with data suggesting that at 40,000 feet a passenger sitting quietly would retain consciousness for only about 18 seconds with the loss of oxygen from depressurization (and thus presumably fewer seconds at 45,000 feet), it may only be a matter of seconds, not minutes, before everyone in the cabin would be dead.
What I don't know and wish I did know is whether the cabin and cockpit have separate pressurization systems. I assume so. This would make it even easier for a pilot to incapacitate/kill all crew and passengers.
The answer is yes: if one of the pilots needed to use the restroom, regulations require the other pilot to put on his O2 mask while the other pilot is away. Once outside the cockpit, the other pilot could lock the door and the other pilot out. Then he could turn everything off.
Also since it was at about 1:30am, most passengers would be trying to sleep in their chairs; additionally the masks that drop only have enough O2 to last while the aircraft descends to a lower/safer altitude — so if the plane maintained altitude, there would only be 5-10 minutes of O2 and everyone would pass out and eventually die.
Unless it landed on smooth water, like the miracle on the Hudson, the plane's ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) would go off and the crash site would be pinpointed by satellites within seconds.
So therefore one of two things happened:
Nothing else is possible. The passengers are all dead from hypoxia; I believe it may be in Indonesia, or another Islamic nation in the area.
Very simple operation and you don't need to be at 41,000 feet to do it. Anything above about 21,000 feet and you die in a few minutes; you just fall asleep.
If you are really paying attention, you would first notice your fingernails (under them) will turn blue due to a lack of oxygen first. A few giggles perhaps, then you'd pass out and DIE. Quite painlessly actually.
In February 2014 a co-pilot hijacked Ethopian Airlines flight 702 and took it to Switzerland. Now in March there is some speculation that Malaysia Airlines flight 370 may have been hijacked and destroyed by the pilots - maybe they took a nose dive into the Andaman Sea? So my question is this: is there an automatic or say anti-pilot warning system on commercial airliners? In other words, a system that is non-maskable (can't be disabled by the pilot) and which will automatically warn ATC about unexpected conditions (like a sudden decrease in altitude)?
Could a pilot of an airliner incapacitate everyone outside the cockpit by somehow triggering a loss of cabin pressure while simultaneously disarming the airplane's oxygen masks, manipulating the air circulation system to induce hypoxia, or some other means? For example, would it be a credible theory that the pilot de-pressurized the 777 flying Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and flew it off somewhere?
I'd imagine there are probably reasons behind the choice of food that airlines serve, and I'm wondering what those reasons are? I guess that Air India probably serves more curries than American Airlines, but what other considerations are taken into account? Presumably weight is one.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner's fuselage is almost completely made of composite carbon fibre material, which is not susceptible to metal fatigue. The main reason why the cabin pressure in a pressurized aircraft is kept as low as possible is to reduce the expansion and shrinking of the fuselage due to changes in pressure differences, reducing metal fatigue in the long run. Does the 787 use higher cabin pressures than other commercial aircraft? Boeing touted this as one of the revolutionary new features of the aircraft back in 2006, but does it actually use higher cabin pressure now
of the pilots can be seen recording the dance on his camera. SpiceJet specially planned this event, and had extra cabin crew on-board the flight as a precaution. Also, during the dance, one of the pilots was in the cockpit while the other one was outside, following standard regulations. DGCA however, got wind of this, and turned out to be not in a very festive mood. Mid-air Holi celebrations... was that this was dangerous to flight operations, and could have resulted in disaster had there been any emergency on-board during the event. Also, that this could result in an unruly cabin
These days, when reading news about missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, I keep coming across a scenario where pilot might have deliberately turned off the transponder which is used for the communication of flight with ATC. When there is a possibility that any bad thing can happen when pilot turn off transponder, why would one give the ability of turning off the transponder to a pilot when he/she usually depends on instructions from ATC or flight control. Is there anyway that ATC can turn on transponder back from ground?
When the transponder on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went off, there was no ALARM. The satellite kept getting pings, and apparently "knew" that the transponder was off. Would it not be a great idea if the Malaysia Airlines got an alarm indication that the transponder was off on one of their planes? The airline could have radioed the pilot and asked what the trouble was. If the pilots did not respond, some jets could have been scrambled to checkout what is going on. The scrambled jets could have followed the airliner for hours and watched them crash in the ocean, when they ran out of fuel. We
In an ATIS or AWOS/ASOS recording, is the reported altimeter setting corrected for temperature? I think it must be, because on a hot day, the altimeter should still show correct field elevation. If it wasn’t corrected for temperature, then the reported field elevation could be badly wrong on a really hot or really cold day. (This and other questions describe pressure and density more generally.)
(or cargo restraint webbing? I'm not sure I'm joking) could handle the remaining risk. No, I don't really think it would be commercially viable ... but I'm wondering whether folks who actually Know...The airlines are always trying to jam more passengers into each plane. I'm smaller than today's average, and I'm still often uncomfortable in a standard Economy seat. It occurred to me... an airline couldn't introduce a cabin in which some or all passengers travel in a reclining, rather than sitting, position? Seems to me that it would be more comfortable (except for claustrophobes
One seemingly plausible theory about the MH370 disappearance is that one or other of the pilots locked the other one out of the cockpit and then depressurised the cabin. However, this answer mentions a code that can be entered to unlock the cockpit door. Could this apply in this case (on a 777)?