FAA flight seat tests are too close for safe evacuation

The Federal Aviation Administration will test whether airline seats are too packed to quickly evacuate passengers, Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell told congressional members during a hearing Thursday.

"Americans are getting bigger and seat size is important, but it has to be looked at in the context of security," Elwell told Reuters. "We're going to give you a seat answer."

Happy little boy while traveling with a plane. Traveling with the kids. Family enjoys plane trip. Transportation Safety

The testing will use 720 individuals and will take place over 12 days in November, Elwell said.

The size and distance of airplane seats is not regulated – but how long it takes airlines to evacuate passengers. Airlines must be able to evacuate passengers within 90 seconds.

Right now, Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines have some of the most tightly packed seats. The airlines' "seat", or distance from one seat back to the next, is 28 inches in the bus, according to Reuters. It is compared to a 31-inch average for other seats with mainline economy.


In July 2018, the FAA rejected the idea of ​​setting minimum standards for airline seats and legroom as security measures. But Congress was determined to require the FAA to do so.

In October 2018, Congress passed a law requiring the FAA to establish minimum standards of pitch, width and length for passenger safety over a year.

Meanwhile, in Japan, passengers on Japan Airlines will be able to tell where babies will sit in the plane when choosing seats in advance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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