How do you get sucked out a plane window – why it happened to Jennifer Riordan on the Southwest Airlines flight 1380

Banking executive Jennifer Riordan suffered head injuries after the jet exploded on Southwest flight 1380 from New York to Dallas.

She was pulled back inside the aircraft by brave passengers and crew after the aircraft was pierced by shrapnel.

Pilot Tammie Jo Shults is being hailed a hero for safely landing the plane with 143 passengers and five crew on board at Philadelphia.

But sadly, Jennifer was unable to recover from her injuries.

So why did the passenger get sucked out of the plane? Sun Online Travel explains what happens when a hole appears in a pressurised aircraft flying at 35,000ft in the air.

Why is the air pressure different outside the plane?

The air pressure inside the plane is much higher than outside the plane, because the air is very thin at an altitude of 35,000 feet.

This means that humans can’t breathe well enough to get sufficient oxygen and develop hypoxia – a condition where the body gradually shuts down and can eventually die.

As a result of this, aircraft cabins are typically pressured to around the same level as is typically found at sea level.

Why is air pressure a problem if a hole appears in the plane?

The stark difference in air pressure inside and outside the plane becomes a problem if a hole appears in the aircraft.

If a large enough hole appears, the aircraft is at serious risk of explosive decompression.

The air inside the cabin would be pushed to the outside incredibly quickly – as fast as 0.5 seconds.

If only a small hole appears, a bullet hole size for instance, it may not have too much of an effect as the air system would be able to compensate for the loss of pressure.

What happens to passengers if a large enough hole appears in the plane?

Passengers would hear a loud bang like an explosion, followed by violent jerks.

Clouds of condensed air may then begin to form inside the plane and passengers would feel all of the air in the cabin and would be sucked out very quickly.

Loose items like cups and cutlery could then start flying through the cabin.

At this point, the oxygen masks would fall from the ceiling.

According to Air And Space magazine, every plane that flies above 15,000 feet must carry at least ten minutes of oxygen per passenger.

The reason that flight safety announcements tell passengers with children to put their own mask on first is because hypoxia happens very quickly.

It starts by slowing down the brain, which makes a person feel drunk or stoned, so by the time they put on their child’s mask they may be unable to do the same for themselves.

The pilots would then descend the plane very quickly to a height where the masks are no longer needed.

What are the chances of being sucked outside of a plane if a hole appears?

On yesterday’s flight, Jennifer Riordan was partially sucked out of the window but was pulled back by heroic passengers.

In 2016, a suicide bomber responsible for an explosion that tore a hole in the side of a jet in Somalia was also sucked out of the plane and died, and there have been several other similar incidents.

But there is a strong chance of surviving even if you are next to the hole if your seatbelt is fastened.

Thomas Anthony, director of the University of Southern California’s aviation safety and security program told The Verge that it’s probably best to avoid the window seat if you are really worried.

He said: I think that it all depends on the location of the depressurization.

“But in general I would say it would be that seat that is closer to the middle of the airplane, like an aisle seat [because] you’re farther from the side.”

Can you survive if you are partially sucked out of a plane during a flight?

While Banking executive Jennifer Riordan suffered fatal head injuries after the jet exploded on Southwest flight 1380, there have been incidents where people have survived.

In 1990, pilot Tim Lancaster was partially sucked out of the cockpit of a BA flight from Birmingham to Malaga and survived.

He suffered from frostbite, fractures to his arm and wrist and a broken thumb and was flying again within five months.

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