FAA seeks public input on airline seat sizes

(CNN) — The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is seeking public comment on commercial airline seat size – from a safety perspective.

“The FAA invites public comment to help the agency determine what minimum dimensions (including pitch, width, and length) of passenger seats may be required for safety, including in particular air egress. plane,” the request reads.

In a statement to CNN, the FAA highlighted additional safety considerations.

“FAA regulations require that all transport category aircraft be capable of rapid evacuation in the event of a fire. Other FAA evacuation requirements relate to actual conditions, undercarriage collapse landing and failure to exit, among other things.”

Comments are open to the public until November 1.

What is not to comment

The comments the agency seeks are limited to security considerations.

Issues “such as how passenger seat dimensions might relate to passenger comfort or convenience” are not part of its request for comment, the FAA said in its Federal Register notice.

In March, the FAA submitted a report to Congress evaluating the current safety standard and concluded that “the overall level of safety and likelihood of survivability during events involving evacuations is very high.”

The report was the result of a directive included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

A number of agencies and industry representatives – including the National Transportation Safety Board, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, and pilot and flight attendant associations – participated in review of aircraft evacuations over the past decade.

The group provided the FAA with 27 recommendations on how the safety of these evacuations could be improved, such as a review of emergency lighting systems to decide if higher lighting levels are needed.

Mock evacuations

Also tied to the FAA Reauthorization Act, the agency conducted mock emergency evacuations in 2019 and 2020, according to agency administrator Steve Dickson.

The FAA noted that their simulations involved able-bodied adult subjects under the age of 60, consistent with accepted standards for human testing.

The invitation to comment provides the public with an opportunity to provide information about the dimensions of safe seats for children, passengers over 60 and people with disabilities, the agency said in its letter to Congress.

In its notice seeking comment, the FAA said it was particularly interested in technical data and information.

Comments may be submitted directly via a “Submit” button on the Federal Register notice. The notice also lists several other ways to comment, including mail, fax, and hand-delivery.

Top image: Airplane seats (Adobe Stock)
CNN’s Marnie Hunter contributed to this report.

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