Altitude Package Integrity Testing

High Altitude Package Integrity Testing

What is Altitude Package Testing?

Altitude package testing is performed to evaluate the effects of high altitude and pressure differentials for packages in the distribution cycle.

Modes of transportation may include feeder aircraft or ground transportation of high mountain passes. A feeder aircraft is considered a potentially non-pressurized aircraft used to transport express air packages to remote locations.

Keystone Package Testing is an ISO 17025 and ISTA accredited test laboratory able to provide any altitude package testing needs. Our engineers take a consultative approach throughout the entire test process and we offer immediate emergency scheduling.

Why is Altitude Package Testing Important?

The purpose of package testing is to ensure that packages can withstand distribution and keep the product protected until it reaches the end consumer. Damaged products can create costly damage fees, return shipments, and lost customer loyalty.

Packages are negatively affected by the result of pressure differentials. These can range up to 19,000 ft. If there are bubbles that can be attributed to leaks in a unit, the unit has failed. This includes during the rise of vacuum or when held at full pressure.

Flexible packages are considered to be packages made of flexible material that can readily be changed. These types of packaging are extremely susceptible to altitude testing. Contrary to its intention, leaks during the transportation cycle allow contents to escape or unwanted substances to enter. 

Altitude Integrity Testing Process

First, specimens are chosen to adequately represent the performance of the test. A recommended number of samples is given by our expert package test engineers. Each sample must consist of products that will be used during the transportation system. If this is unattainable, products will need to be as comparable to the original product as possible.

When these packages or packaging systems are exposed to these altitudes, the units will be negatively affected resulting from the pressure differential.

The package is conditioned to ambient laboratory temperature and humidity. Temperatures can range from 20 to 40 C while ambient humidity is generally 50%.

Testing procedures may vary depending on which test manufacturers and distributors choose. The unit is placed in a vacuum chamber and a specific pressure is attained. The unit is then removed from the vacuum chamber and examined for damage or deformation. 

Lastly, the test report will include basic information such as:

  • Temperature and humidity of conditioning
  • Vacuum, temperature, and duration of the testing
  • Description of the product and internal packaging
  • Number of specimens used and number of failures (if any)
  • Date, time, and name of the test engineer

Keystone Altitude Package Testing Equipment and Capabilities

Keystone Package Testing utilizes multiple atmospheric chambers capable of simulating altitudes up to 70,000 feet. Additionally, we operate dozens of thermal chambers. These range from small reach-in to walk-in chambers that can accommodate entire vehicles and large pieces of equipment.

Test Methods ASTM D6653, D3078, ASTM D4991, and ASTM D5094, test for leakage of packaging systems by vacuum method. Don’t see what you are looking for? Contact us for more information on our extensive package test scope.

Common Altitude Testing Standards

ASTM D6653: High Altitude on Packaging Systems

ASTM D6653 is a common altitude package testing standard. It determines the effects of pressure differential when packaged products face certain transportation modes. This includes feeder aircraft or ground over high mountain passes.

Any conditioning is conducted per ASTM D4332 Practice for Conditioning Containers, Packages, or Packaging Components for Testing.

First, a sample is selected. Next, the vacuum chamber is prepared by ensuring it’s calibrated and ready to mimic high-altitude conditions. After, the package is placed inside. then actively reduce the chamber’s pressure to the required vacuum level, closely mimicking the reduced air pressure encountered during flight.

Throughout the 60-minute testing period, the package is monitored for any integrity changes.

Lastly, after the test, the data is analyzed and collected. This data will refer to how the package responds to the simulated conditions, with any structural weaknesses being noted. A detailed report is compiled that not only covers the basic test setup and conditions but also delves into specific observations and data points that are collected during the test. Any deviations from the ASTM D6653 standards are highlighted, with the product, packaging, shipping container, and closure system being described in detail, including how these deviations might impact the test results.

ASTM D3078: Leaks in Flexible Packaging

ASTM D3078 detects gross leaks in flexible packaging containing a headspace gas. The size of the leak detected depends on the products contained, the nature of the packaging material, and test parameters.

The standard uses a vacuum chamber to determine if there are bubbles attributable to leaks in a specimen. This is determined during the rise of vacuum or when held at full vacuum. If a leak is present, the specimen fails the test.

ASTM D4991: Leakage of Empty Rigid Containers by Vacuum

ASTM D4991 determines the resistance of leakage under differential pressure conditions for empty containers. The standard is also suitable for testing some hazardous liquids.

The standard is used to test rigid containers intended for the transportation of some liquids by air. ASTM D4991 is carried out by pressurizing an empty rigid container in a solution and subjecting it to a gradually increasing vacuum.

ASTM D5094: Gross Leakage of Liquids from Containers

ASTM D5094 evaluates closure/container integrity with threaded or lug-style closures. This is tested by gross leaks in rigid and semi-rigid containers. The test indicates if a container can survive the distribution without leaking.

ASTM D5094 also tests the ability of containers to prevent leakage when stored or transported upright, inverted, or on the side. There are two test methods for ASTM D5094. Test method A is vibration and storage testing. Test method B is vibration and vacuum chamber testing. Though test method B is less severe than test method A, it is also a shorter test procedure.

Expert Altitude Integrity Compliance Testing

At Keystone, constant communication and expedited reports are the norm. Keystone Package Testing provides the peace of mind that all your package testing needs are met. This ultimately helps our customers focus on R&D rather than package compliance testing.

Over-testing is the process of testing packages to more than a test requirement calls for. Our engineers avoid over-testing by getting the job done right the first and only time. We offer product troubleshooting assistance when packages do not meet compliance standards.

Ready to get started? Request a quote and see why so many companies trust Keystone with their packaging integrity testing.


Interested in the EMC/EMI, climatic, dynamic, shielding effectiveness, or IP Code testing of a product? Follow the corresponding links or for more information.