Air travel is safer and cheaper when compared to the past few decades. But passengers are facing further problems when it comes to comfort. Chatty neighbours, crying babies and cramped seats are not the only problem. Dehydration and altitude sickness also contributes to the feeling of distress on long-haul flights.
People label this all these discomforts into one term known as “jet lag.” But the new commercial aircraft might have a remedy.
That “uncomfortable” feeling
Mountaineers who climb above 6,500 feet are familiar with “Acute Mountain Syndrome.” Its symptoms include sleep disturbance, anorexia, vomiting, nausea, headache, and fatigue. The effect is worse in elderly passengers.
An airplane cabin is pressurized to 8,000 feet when it is at the altitude of 38,000 feet. You can imagine the impact on the body.
But, the new Airbus A350 and the Boeing Dreamliner 787 are pressurized at 6,000 feet. This causes little to no discomfort. There are no breathing problems, dry eyes or dry nasal passages. Surprisingly, you might experience a refreshing sleep as well.
Exactly how were these airplanes able to create a more comfortable in-flight experience? What is the technology behind these planes?
When asked about this, the Regional Director of Revenue Analysis & Cabin Experience, Kent Craver and Differentiation Strategy Director, Blake Emery, had a scientific explanation.
Carbon-reinforced composites of plastic, they said.
Is this technology a success?
As high school physics explains, air flows from high pressure to low pressure. Also, the air pressure decreases when altitude increases.
So, an “internal altitude” of 8,000 in a flight cabin means more hard work for your lungs and heart. The outside pressure is obviously less as the plane climbs up to 35,000 feet. The maintained lower in-cabin altitude constantly tries to equalize with the air pressure outside.
Now, airplane designers have further increased the pressure inside these planes in order to achieve a more comfortable environment. However this exerts even more strain on the structure of the aircraft.
Over time, the increased difference in pressure adds more strain to the metal frame of aircraft. This is not a health issue; it is an economic issue for the airlines. This does not affect passenger safety, but it definitely shortens the life span of an airliner. The new composite material reduce this problem.