I known the cabin pressure controller (CPC) manages the climb and descent of the cabin based on actual aircraft altitude, and that a manual control is possible, but details are unknown to me, e.g.

  • What is the source of pressure reference?
  • How the different valves (outflow, relief) and the packs are related to the CPC?
  • When and how is used the manual control of the pressure?

enter image description here
Pressurization panel on a Boeing 737 NG (source: B737.org.uk)

Could you provide the overall view of how the CPC and the related equipment work in a commercial airliner?


The System you are referring to is described in ATA chapter 21. I will report here an example for A320

An overview of the system is reported below (from the ATA21 report):

The schematic of an A320 pressurization system

What is the source of pressure reference?

In flight the outside pressure signal can be come from either:

  • The Air Data Reference System (ADIRS), for the pressure altitude.
  • The Flight Management and Guidance Computer (FMGC), for the landing elevation.
    • If FMGC not available, uses the landing elevation from the ADIRS and the landing elevation

How the different valves (outflow, relief) and the packs are related to the CPC?

There are two independent safety valves controlled by two independent Cabin Pressure Controllers (CPC) and actuated by three independent motors. The pressure in the cabin is controlled only with these valves, while the temperature of the cabin is controlled by mixing the air from the packs with the one of the cabin. In particular the valves are opened and closed to keep the desired pressure profile according to the logic dictated by the different flight phase. Pressurization Profile.

Different constraint drive the controller:

  • Cabin pressure is limited to 8000ft maximum, due to structural fuselage meeting (otherwise it would "explode" as a balloon).
  • Maximum descent rate is kept under 750 ft/min for passenger comfort.
  • At take-off on ground the cabin is de-pressurized till -0.1 psi with a max rate of 400ft/min to avoid pressure surge at rotation

When and how is used the manual control of the pressure?

Manual control of the pressure is used when both the CBC controllers fail or when the crew uses the cabin press control panel, that you showed. In case of aircraft ditching the inlets are closed as well with a ditching button (first image, right in the CABIN PRESS panel)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Interesting answer. I discovered the existence of ATA chapters, thanks a lot! $\endgroup$ – mins Mar 23 '16 at 14:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.