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Aviation Glossary :: Cabin Altitude  Aviation Glossary :: Cabin Altitude FAA Written Test Preparation
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Cabin Altitude
Cabin Altitude
the atmospheric pressure in the cabin. Air pressure is artificially maintained at approximately 6,000- 8,000 feet inside the cabin. Flying for prolonged periods above 10,000 feet may cause hypoxia, altitude sickness, decompression sickness and acute earache and intestinal pain. Oxygen masks are deployed automatically if cabin altitude reaches 14,000 feet.
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source: ICAO English Pro Aviation Glossary

The pressure inside the cabin is technically referred to as the equivalent effective cabin altitude or more commonly as the cabin altitude. The cabin altitude is the equivalent altitude having the same atmospheric pressure, so that if the cabin altitude were set to zero then the pressure inside would be the pressure found at sea level. In practice, it is almost never kept at zero, in order to keep within the design limits of the fuselage and to manage landing at airfields higher than sea level. The cabin altitude of an aircraft planning to cruise at 40,000 ft (12,000 m) is programmed to rise gradually from the altitude of the airport of origin to around a maximum of 8,000 ft (2,400 m) (approximately 10.9 psi, or 0.75 atm) and to then reduce gently during descent until it matches the ambient air pressure of the destination.

A typical cabin altitude, such as the Boeing 767's, is maintained at 6,900 feet (2,100 m) when cruising at 39,000 feet (12,000 m). A design goal in newer aircraft is to lower the cabin altitude. For example, the highest internal cabin altitude of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is equivalent of 6,000 feet (1,800 m), while one of the lowest currently flying is the Bombardier Global Express business jet which features 4,500 ft (1,400 m) when cruising at 41,000 feet (12,000 m). However the trend for lower cabin altitude on newer aircraft is not universal: older 747s typically have lower cabin altitude than the newer 777 or A380. The absolute lowest cabin altitude available on an aircraft is found on the Emivest SJ30 business jet which features a sea level cabin altitude when cruising at 41,000 feet (12,000 m).

Keeping the cabin altitude below 8,000 ft (2,400 m) generally avoids significant hypoxia, altitude sickness, decompression sickness, and barotrauma, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations in the U.S. mandate that the cabin altitude may not exceed this at the maximum operating altitude of the aircraft under normal operating conditions. This mandatory maximum cabin altitude does not eliminate all physiological problems: passengers with conditions such as pneumothorax are advised not to fly until fully healed; people suffering from a cold or other infection may still experience pain in the ears and sinuses; scuba divers flying within the "no fly" period after a dive risk decompression sickness, because the accumulated nitrogen in their bodies can form bubbles when exposed to reduced cabin pressure.

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source: Wikitionary / Wikipedia and Related Sources (Edited)


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Disclaimer: While this glossary in most cases is likely to be highly accurate and useful, sometimes, for any number of editorial, transcription, technical, and other reasons, it might not be. Additionally, as somtimes you may have found yourself brought to this page through an automated term matching system, you may find definitions here that do not match the cotext or application in which you saw the original term. Please use your good judgement when using this resource.


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