FAA to Test If Airplane Seats Are Too Small for Safe Evacuation
The Federal Aviation Administration will conduct evacuation tests to determine whether airline seats are spacious enough to sufficiently evacuate passengers in the event of an emergency. According to Reuters, the tests will involve 720 people over the course of 12 days in November.
“Americans are getting bigger and seat size is important but it has to be looked at in the context of safety,” said Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell at a U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing.
But while Americans have gotten bigger, seat pitch has shrunk on most airlines. Since 1970, the distance from one seat back to the next has gotten anywhere between 3 to 7 inches shorter. Some low cost airlines have a seat pitch of just 28″.
Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act in 2018 requiring that it to sets minimum seat standards for pitch, width and length for passenger safety. Currently there’s no set requirements for these measurements. But, airlines should be able to evacuate passengers from aircraft within 90 seconds.