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Explosive Decompression – (Part Four)

“Robert Novell’s Third Dimension Blog”

Good Morning and Happy Friday—Today we wrap up the series on Explosive Decompression. We have looked back at the basics involved and on Tuesday we looked at the science, and physiology, as presented by Geoffrey A. Landis, a scientist now working at the NASA Glenn Research Center, in an article titled Human Exposure to Vacuum.

Today we are going to wrap up the series by going all the way back to 1954 when the term Explosive Decompression came to the forefront. The De Havilland aircraft company, of Great Britain, introduced the Comet to the world as the first jet passenger aircraft but a manufacturing flaw destroyed the airplane, Great Britain’s hopes to beat Boeing, and the De Havilland aircraft company.

The video below, which runs for fifty minutes, details the specifics of this event and what I find most interesting is the science used to determine the cause, and the methodology employed, was ground breaking to say the least and current accident investigators, such as the teams deployed by the NTSB, still use the techniques pioneered by the British. I also found it interesting that Prime Minister Churchill was a major force behind the Comet’s launch as well as the effort to solve the mystery of the crashes.

All manufacturers learned from this and even the Russians recognized early on what the problem was and the Tupolev 104 was designed to avoid this problem. I wrote an article on this in December and you can find that article HERE. The Russians actually ended up being the first to operate a jet passenger aircraft, in scheduled passenger service, much to the dismay of the western powers.


In 1956, when the Western press claimed there was just a single Tu-104 prototype, the Soviets proved the airliner was in production by landing three at London’s Heathrow airport. ( © Daily Mail / REX / Alamy)


That is it for this week. Enjoy the video below, enjoy the weekend, and keep family and friends close – tomorrow when we wake up our lives are one day shorter. Don’t let life slip by and always protect your profession.

Robert Novell

January 24, 2013