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I was reading a BBC FAQ about Federal Air Marshals, which has this chilling quote in it:

A gunfight on a passenger airliner is seen as an option only of last resort.

Presuming an air marshal has to discharge his weapon on-board, and it goes through the fuselage, would this be likely to cause an explosive decompression?

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  • $\begingroup$ yeah I had the same question when I was watching "Non-Stop" yesterday $\endgroup$
    – MK Yung
    Mar 22, 2014 at 12:17

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No, there was actually an episode of Myth Busters about this exact subject:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi1_1l7M8FA

They had to try really, really hard to cause an explosive decompression, resorting to actual hollywood style explosives to make it happen.

Most airliners can actually even maintain normal pressurization even with a coffee can sized hole in the fuselage.

As far as firing their weapon on board the aircraft, they are trained to not shoot towards areas like the cockpit or the floor where most of the "important" stuff is. Avionics, hydraulic lines, electrical wiring, etc. don't take bullets well. The rounds that they use would put holes in the aircraft, but as the above episode shows it won't create a pressurization problem.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice, I hadn't seen that episode of Mythbusters. $\endgroup$ Mar 21, 2014 at 2:50
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    $\begingroup$ In a crowded cabin the likelihood of collateral damage (hitting multiple bystanders per shot) is not trivial. $\endgroup$ Mar 21, 2014 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ @DanPichelman Absolutely! I think that a lot of their training covers this aspect. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Mar 21, 2014 at 14:58

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