# Is there possibility to Survive without brain damage at 30/35,000 feet?

I just read Mayday by Nelson Demille. I won't get into many details but the book talks about an airliner (similar to the Concorde) which operates at an altitude of ~60,000 ft (~18Km). Suddenly, due to a mistaken missile launch, there are holes on both sides of the plane. All the passengers become brain-damaged except 5 people who are trapped in lavatories at that time.

Now while this is fiction, could we go crazy due to lack of oxygen in case something goes wrong? How much oxygen would be needed to land safely and how much oxygen is usually kept on an airliner in case of emergencies.

A second and related question: in case of a fire or other incident, how quickly can a plane safely descend? I know and have experienced losing altitude the last 30 minutes or so of flight, probably lining up to the airport. In an emergency, how quickly can the pilot land? Is it 5-10 minutes or more? I am talking about descending from cruise altitude and come to a dead-stop.

• I've made some edits, based on the book description at Amazon. Feel free to roll them back if you feel it changes the basic question in any way. Dec 16, 2016 at 0:05
• @aeroalias edited it bit more. The book says 60,000 ft so sticking with that. Also saw that the concode flew at 58k aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/16014/… hence sticking with the fantasy :) Dec 16, 2016 at 0:10
• You have a few different questions bundled here. See here for depressurization; here for the O2 system; and here for emergency descent. All of those questions have other relevant and interesting ones linked to them. Dec 16, 2016 at 0:17
• From a Wikipedia article on "Cloud Suck": On 14 February 2007 while practising for a paragliding contest in Australia, Polish-born German team pilot Ewa Wiśnierska-Cieślewicz was sucked into a cumulonimbus cloud, climbing at up to 20 m per second (4,000 feet per minute) to an altitude of 9,946 m (32,600 feet). She lost consciousness due to hypoxia, but regained consciousness after 30 minutes to an hour, and landed still covered in ice after a three and a half hour flight. Dec 16, 2016 at 15:23
• Depending on meals and gastrointestinal conditions explosive decompression is certainly a risk inside lavatories as well. Dec 18, 2016 at 15:21