United 777 seats

Crowded Seating Could Increase Airlines Safety Risks

United 777 seats

Airlines are packing more seats into their commercial planes, and that could increase airlines safety risks for consumers, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation committee hearing this month.

Airlines must prove they can safely evacuate their planes in 90 seconds or less during an emergency, Cynthia Corbett, an investigator for the Federal Aviation Administration, told the DOT’s Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection.

However, declining “seat pitch” — described as the distance between the point on one seat and the same point on a seat in front of or behind it — combined with a growing obesity problem, fuller flights and more carry-on luggage make getting out of one’s seat in coach class a chore.

“Ironically, the International Air Transport Association has detailed charts and rules for the transport of dogs and other animals,” Charlie Leocha, a member of the committee, wrote on his consumertraveler.com website. “These humane regulations require adequate space to stand, turn around and lay down … There are no such ‘humane’ rules for humans.”

The typical seat pitch used to be 34 inches. That is now considered “comfort class” on some airlines. Major carriers such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways have reduced their seat pitch to 31 inches. Low-cost Spirit Airlines has a 29-inch seat pitch.

In addition to tighter pitch, airlines are putting more seats in each row. Boeing Co.’s 787, for example, was designed for eight seats per row. Most airlines have configured their Dreamliners for nine seats. Airbus unveiled a seat config-uration that puts 11 passen-gers in a row on its A380 model.

As long as airlines can meet the 90-second evacuation rule, those configurations pass FAA muster. And airlines can repeat the evacuation tests until they pass.

“Examining the current airline practices of packing passengers on planes might be justified by financial and profit motives, but there are health and safety consequences,” Leocha wrote on his website. “It is time for the FAA to take a close look at passenger well being. After all, don’t you deserve to be treated at least as well as your dog?”

Source… http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150426/PC05/150429606/1177/crowded-seating-could-pose-safety-risks-for-airlines

Leave a Comment