On 4 April 2012 the Ryanair 737-800 was flying from Bergamo, near Milan to East Midlands Airport when it suffered a rapid cabin depressurisation. The crew declared a mayday and performed an emergency descent to 10,000 feet and diverted to Frankfurt airport. The aircraft landed safely but a number of the passengers were injured and severely traumatised by the terrifying incident.
Our investigations quickly concluded that the accident was most likely caused by a problem with the aircraft pressurisation system. This was subsequently confirmed by an interim report produced by the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation, which suggests that the cause of the incident was a problem with the primary cabin pressure controller and maintenance/ design issues with the backup cabin pressure controller. The accident is particularly concerning as there had been two other depressurisations of Ryanair 737-800s in 2012.
Cabin pressurisation is crucial for ensuring that passengers and crew have enough oxygen. Above 10,000 feet the air becomes too thin to supply enough oxygen so the cabin air needs to be pressurised by bleed air taken from the aircraft engines. At 30,000 – 40,000 feet, the height at which airliners cruise, a person could become unconscious (hypoxic) in seconds if there is a rapid decompression and they are unable to don their oxygen mask quickly. Furthermore, the emergency drill associated with this loss of pressure requires a rapid emergency descent, which is a dramatic manoeuvre for an airliner, and can cause injuries to passengers not strapped in, damage to eardrums as the air pressure changes rapidly and psychological injury as a result of what can be a terrifying experience.
The aviation team represents a number of passengers injured in this Ryanair flight and has issued their cases in the English courts.
If you would like to speak in confidence to an expert regarding this accident, or any other aviation incident you were involved in, please contact a member of the aviation team on 0800 056 4110. The team will be able to advise you on the accident, the relevant law and the parties who may be liable.
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