Melody Teh


Thu, 16 Apr, 2015

Are the size of seats on planes a health and safety danger?

Are the size of seats on planes a health and safety danger?

Planes are filled with more passengers than ever before and the shrinking space on planes certainly doesn’t help comfort levels. However, experts are increasingly questioning whether the packed rows of seats constitute a health and safety danger.

A consumer advisory group, set up by the Department of Transportation in the US, is listening to all these issues in order to make recommendations to regulators.

Julie Frederick, a representative for the American Airlines flight attendants union, said that following the implementation of checked-bag fees in 2008, increasing numbers of passengers are carrying on bags and fighting for overhead space. She said the incidences of air rage have risen exponentially, many that go unreported.

Questions have also been raised over whether the increased number of people on planes will create difficulty for passengers to quickly evacuate after a crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) runs tests on how fast passengers can evacuate a plane and how fast they can put on a life preserver. However, Cynthia Corbertt, a human factors researcher with the FAA, testified they conduct those test using planes with 79 centimetres between each row of seats. Most passenger plans have less legroom. Jetstar has 71 centimetres of room and Tiger Airways has 72.5 centimetres.

Before any new plane is allowed to fly, the manufacturer runs test to prove that everybody can evacuate in 90 seconds with half of the exits blocked. Carry-on baggage is strewn throughout the cabin and the test is conducted in night-like conditions. However, the cabin isn’t filled with smoke and all passengers are fit and know the evacuation is coming.

 “We’d like to see more-realistic simulations,” Frederick said, adding especially since most passengers don’t pay attention to pre-flight safety briefings.

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