For added safety
Lufthansa Technik develops solution to counter pressure loss in the VIP cabin
The pressurized cabin in aircraft serves to maintain the cabin pressure at a much higher level than it is outside the aircraft even at a cruising altitude of more than 10,000 meters. The air is too thin and too low in oxygen for humans at high altitudes. A hermetically sealed compartment is required to maintain the vital pressure level against an environment with significantly lower pressure. What is important here is that the air pressure in the aircraft is maintained uniformly high while air exchange is taking place at the same time. This is achieved by regulating the incoming and outflowing air accordingly.
If the pressure in the cabin cannot be guaranteed, for example due to damage to the skin of the aircraft, this is referred to as decompression or a drop in air pressure. Should such a situation occur, passengers are supplied with air by means of oxygen masks and the pilot immediately commences a descent in order to restore life-sustaining conditions on board. Pressure equalizing decompression and flow flaps are installed in the aircraft in the cockpit door, the floor and at the side of the cabin in order to ensure survival of passengers even in the event of a sudden loss of pressure, which can occur in a matter of seconds.
The conditions in the cabin of a VIP aircraft are different to those in normal passenger aircraft. Because a VIP cabin generally consists of a number of smaller, low-volume compartments, significant pressure differences arise in case of a sudden loss of pressure. To prevent walls, ceilings and floors rupturing in such a situation, numerous flaps are installed that open in case of pressure loss. However, interior designers are often none too pleased about this as it is not always easy to integrate these unobtrusively in the interior design. Lufthansa Technik has therefore developed a solution to counter this extremely unlikely situation of a sudden drop in pressure in the cabin, which further increases safety and also no longer detracts from the design.
The mainstay of this solution is a special rupture wall, which breaks open in the event of a drop in pressure in the cabin and thus immediately creates a large-area connection of the cabin volume with the overlying crown volume. The volume in the inner cabin, which no longer reaches through to the skin of the aircraft, rather just to the inclined rupture wall, increases immediately in case of a pressure drop by the volume of the overlying crown volume. The pressure drop in the cabin can thus be delayed, resulting in added safety for the passengers. Numerous national and international patents have already been registered, and in some cases granted, both with respect to the rupture wall and also for some special solutions for implementing the flaps for equalizing pressure during sudden decompression.
Backed by this extensive experience, Lufthansa Technik was able to convert an Airbus A340-300 to a totally unique hospital aircraft for Ebola patients. Even if there is a loss of pressure, no germs can escape from the contaminated area and the patient can continue to receive intensive medical care. Another example of the expertise of Lufthansa Technik in this area is the conversion of an Airbus A310 to a parabolic aircraft for the French company Novespace. As safety also had to be guaranteed in this case for the test personnel on board during a sudden decompression, flow surfaces were integrated in the ceiling and walls of the test chamber.