FAA to establish the necessary minimum seat pitch, width and length based on safety checks.
Airplane legroom has diminished over the past decade, to the point where passenger comfort is hit or miss, depending on the airline and even the type of plane on which you fly.
But do airlines listen to passengers bemoaning lack of legroom? No. What they do listen to, however, is the world’s biggest airline watchdog, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has decided that seat sizes may have moved beyond passenger discomfort into the realm of passenger safety, The Sun reports.
The FAA is concerned that the airline space squeeze could be putting passengers in danger and, in order to set minimum seat size requirements, will now test how fast flyers are able to evacuate a plane.
The evacuation trials will run over 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 FAA deputy administrator Dan Elwell.
“Later this year we’re going to establish the necessary seat pitch, width and length based on safety,” he added.
Current rules state that airlines must be able to evacuate passengers within 90 seconds, but do not set minimum requirements on seat size. However, seat sizes are getting smaller and passengers are getting bigger.
The standard economy seat pitch on Australian carriers varies depending on the aircraft. For example, Jetstar’s A321 aircraft’s seat pitch is 77.1cm, but on A330s it’s 78.7cm, the same as Qantas and Virgin Australia.
With any luck, we could be seeing economy seats with more legroom in the future. However, we may also have to pay for it, as airline margins may suffer should they have to reconfigure planes to create extra, safer space.
Would you be happy to pay a little extra for more legroom?
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