HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Scientific American respo...

Tue Sep 25, 2012, 11:05 AM

Scientific American responds to Romney's question about Airplane Windows [View all]

Why Airplane Windows Don't Roll Down
Were you to open a plane window, the compressed air inside would rapidly rush out, atmospheric conditions inside and outside the plane would equalize, and everybody would die

In his latest gaffe, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lamented the fact that airplane windows don't roll down.

Romney's wife Ann's plane had to make an emergency landing Friday (Sept. 21) because of an electrical malfunction. Discussing the incident at a fundraiser the next day, he said: "When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly, there's no and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem. So it's very dangerous."

Here's why they don't do that.

Gravity tends to keep air molecules concentrated near the ground, so the atmosphere thins out as you go up. The air becomes so thin at 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) or so that airplane cabins must be pressurized above that altitude to prevent occupants from suffering from hypoxia, or lack of oxygen. Because temperature and pressure go hand-in-hand (i.e. low-pressure air feels cold), pressurization is also necessary to keep cabins sufficiently warm.

At 35,000 ft. (11,000 m), the typical altitude of a commercial jet, the air pressure drops to less than a quarter of its value at sea level, and the outside temperature drops below negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 51 degrees Celsius), according to The Engineering Toolbox. Exposed to such conditions, you would quickly die.

The explanation continues with some great comments at the end.

15 replies, 3499 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply Scientific American responds to Romney's question about Airplane Windows [View all]
liberal N proud Sep 2012 OP
bulloney Sep 2012 #1
liam_laddie Sep 2012 #3
Botany Sep 2012 #2
sweettater Sep 2012 #4
Botany Sep 2012 #5
BumRushDaShow Sep 2012 #8
Baitball Blogger Sep 2012 #6
Aviation Pro Sep 2012 #7
matt819 Sep 2012 #9
chelsea0011 Sep 2012 #10
mnhtnbb Sep 2012 #11
Stake Sep 2012 #12
nichomachus Sep 2012 #14
12forward Sep 2012 #13
HopeHoops Sep 2012 #15