# Sucked or Blown?

I’m sure ya’ll have heard about that nightmarish Russian transport plane incident today. 100-200 people die in a really friggin’ bad way to die. But what I’m trying to wonder is…

Where they “sucked” out of the plane, or “blown” out? I was under the assumption that it’s called explosive decompression for a reason. So they would most likely be “blown” out of the plane, because the inside of the plane was pressurized higher than the outside. But most people (and apparently the press), are under the false assumption that they were “sucked” out. Or am I just totally wrong?

I’d say you’re half-wrong. On the one hand, you’re right that they were moved because the pressure in the plane is higher than outside. On the other hand, the press is right that they were moved because the pressure outside was less than inside. In other words, they’re both sucked and blown, depending on how you look at it. It’s like asking whether hot air balloons fly because the balloon air is lighter than outside air, or because the outside air is heavier than the balloon air. It’s two sides of the same coin.

Look, someone had to suck it up and say it.

Blow me, Mike.

HVAC 101 - “If it sucks, it’s gotta blow”

HVAC 102 - “If it blows, it’s gotta suck”

This whole thing has been blown way out of proportion.

Now you’re just sucking the wind out of this thread’s sails.

–Dave

Good lord, those people were at 33,000 feet. Do you know how long it takes to fall from 33,000 feet?

Unless you hit something on the way out, you wouldn’t be killed merely by being sucked (or blown) out. However, I’d imagine you’d lose consciousness pretty quickly at that altitude. But would you wake up for the Really Bad Part as you fell back into thicker air?

Would you really lose consciousness, Denny? And how long would it take to fall?

Also, wouldn’t the decompression be over pretty quickly? The story made it sound like the passengers were having to hang on for dear life as if they were being continually sucked out. I’d think there would be an explosive decompression and then it would just be, I dunno, really windy.

What a horrible scary story. Ack.

`` -Tom``

Unfortunately everyone was holding open umbrellas.

By my calculations, about 227 seconds. If wind resistence didn’t exist, it would only take about 45 seconds, but if you assume a terminal velocity of about 110 miles an hour (which is reached in just 4.6 seconds), the fall takes much longer.

Four minutes is a long, long time to fall. Their terror (if they retained consciousness) is beyond my ability to imagine. Those poor doomed souls…

Jesus guys, how many jokes did you make about the WTC collapse?
Police and their families were on board. The idea of people clinging on to their families and losing them one by one takes the levity out of me.

After a certain amount of time you do – pilots are supposed to use oxygen over 10,000/12,000 feet. And remember the golfer Payne Stewart – that crash was caused when everyone passed out when the cabin depressurized at high altitude.

However, I don’t know if they’d have had time to pass out. Ugh.

Despite the fact that I love piloting real planes, I have a real phobia of heights. What these people went through is right up there with “being burned alive” on my personal list of “worst ways to die.”

I don’t understand how every single person on this plane got sucked out. Nobody was wearing a seatbelt? Not a single person out of the hundred+ there was buckled in?

More likely their chairs were torn out, too. During a violent depressurization that can happen (I remember that happened to a few rows near the depressurization point on that flight in Hawaii a few years back).

I’m not an expert, but I did go skydiving once. We jumped at 16000 feet, and while it was difficult to breathe for the first 30 seconds or so, after that it was fine. I think people can generally go 3 minutes or so w/o oxygen before blacking out, so I doubt these people lost consciousness on the way down.

One can only hope they suffered massive heart attacks on the way down.

asjunk

Thankfully, you would. Even if the passengers had taken a big breath before the cabin pressure went, at 33,000 ft. they’d pass out long before they fell to a breathable altitude.

Out of curiosity, what’s considered breathable altitude?

This was an Antonov cargo plane, not an airliner. With that many people on board, it’s very likely the passengers were merely sitting around on the floor, on boxes, or on benches along the side of the plane.

FAA requires supplemental oxygen at 12,500 feet or higher, but it’s recommended above 10,000 feet because after a couple of hours you can have symptoms of hypoxia even at 12,000 feet. The effects become exponentially more dramatic the higher you get.

Still, though, even in the stratosphere at 40,000 feet you have about 5 seconds after a depressurization before you lose consciousness. Doing some Googling on the topic, it looks like a fighter pilot could stay conscious for about 30 seconds at 33,000 feet with a depressurization; someone not in fighter pilot shape would pass out sooner.

So I don’t know that these people would have passed out for sure. Ugh.