A flight from London to Singapore was forced to make an emergency landing at Azerbaijan's capital Baku on Sunday after experiencing a drop in cabin air pressure.
The Singapore Airlines A380 Airbus travelling to Singapore departed London at about 11:00am on Sunday. Passengers told the Straits Times that they heard a loud noise from one of the doors and felt a cold draft about 20 minutes after the aircraft took off.
Despite the leak of pressurised air, the flight continued for a few hours. But it came to an abrupt halt after oxygen masks were automatically ejected as cabin pressure dropped to an alarming level. The plane landed safely at Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku ten hours after take off, and no one was injured.
At ground level, the air pressure inside and outside a plane is equal, but the outside air pressure drops dramatically as the plane ascends to cruising altitude. The oxygen available at 35,000 feet is only one-quarter that of at sea level. Hence, when cruising at altitude, an airliner's cabin is pressurised. Pressurized air from the engines is cooled before being released into the cabin.
A healthy adult can withstand altitudes as high as 13,000 feet, but symptoms including headache, dizziness and vomiting will gradually kick in at higher altitudes.