I know the usual scenario is where an airliner suffers from an explosive decompression and the oxygen masks drop and the plane descends to a safer altitude but.....
This is a purely hypothetical situation but if a passenger plane was cruising at 39000ft+ and it suffered a cabin leak that somehow went unnoticed by the crew and passengers and the oxygen masks didn't drop, how long roughly would it be before the passengers were incapacitated, and how long before the lack of oxygen became fatal.
The question you're asking roughly translates to
What is the time of useful consciousness at 39,000 feet?. The answer is "About 15-20 seconds, once the pressure bleeds off." The FAA has a handy table for this:
The Time of Useful Consciousness will vary depending on personal physiological factors (e.g. if you're a smoker your blood doesn't oxygenate as well - you will probably have less time. If you're a mountain climber in excellent shape and used to breathing rarified air on your climbs you'll probably have a little more time).
In the case of a non-explosive decompression (say a pressurization system failure) you'll probably have more time than this from the start of the event to the point where everyone is unconscious: the cabin pressure will take time to bleed off. Whether that time is seconds or minutes depends on the nature of the leak.
Presumably while the pressure is bleeding off the aircraft's systems will complain about the loss of cabin pressure and give the pilots a chance to address the problem (fix the pressurization system or descend to a safe altitude). Unfortunately the effects of hypoxia can start setting in before the crew realizes what's going on (which is one of the contributing factors in the loss of Helios Flight 522, which suffered just this kind of gradual depressurization).
I know the usual scenario is where an airliner suffers from an explosive decompression and the oxygen masks drop and the plane descends to a safer altitude but..... This is a purely hypothetical situation but if a passenger plane was cruising at 39000ft+ and it suffered a cabin leak that somehow went unnoticed by the crew and passengers and the oxygen masks didn't drop, how long roughly would it be before the passengers were incapacitated, and how long before the lack of oxygen became fatal.
Normal commercial jets drop gas masks when cabin pressure drops, and supply oxygen, but, where does that oxygen come from? Do commercial jets store oxygen? If they do, isn't pressurised oxygen very flammable and too hazardous to carry?
We may all be familiar with the part of the cabin safety briefing where they say that, in the event of a reduction in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from a compartment above our heads, yadda yadda, the bag may not inflate. What is the purpose of the bag?
accidents that start high above the ground. Thus, you usually have a few minutes before you're going to hit the ground and there's often only 1 or 2 passengers (rather than 100). Plus, you're usually already at an altitude where you don't need oxygen to bail out. With that in mind, couldn't you put the plane into a shallow dive to keep it from stalling, trim it to keep it going straight and then bail... and then maintain straight and level for a good 3 to 5 minutes once you got past 12,000 (so people have oxygen to breathe when they jump). And if you can descend and maintain level flight, you might
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