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The FAA is asking for public feedback on the size of the airplane seat

(CNN) — The US Federal Aviation Administration is seeking comments from the public on the size of commercial airplane seats – from a safety perspective.

“The FAA invites public comments to help the agency determine what minimum dimensions (including pitch, width, and length) of passenger seats may be necessary for safety, including specifically evacuation of aircraft,” the request states.

In a statement to CNN, the FAA outlined additional safety concerns.

“FAA regulations require all transport category aircraft to be able to conduct a rapid evacuation in the event of a fire. Other FAA evacuation requirements address real-world conditions, landing gear collapse and exit failure, among others.”[ads1];

Comments are open to the public until November 1.

What is not up for comment

The feedback the agency requests is limited to security reasons.

Matters “such as how the dimensions of passenger seats may relate to passenger comfort or convenience” are not part of the request for comments, the FAA said in its Federal Register notice.

In March, the FAA sent a report to Congress that evaluated the current safety standard and concluded that “the overall level of safety and probability of survival in incidents involving evacuation 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 unions—participated in the review of evacuations that had occurred on planes over the past decade.

The group gave the FAA 27 recommendations on how to improve the safety of such evacuations, such as a review of emergency lighting systems to determine if higher lighting levels are needed.

Simulated evacuations

Also related to the FAA Reauthorization Act, the agency conducted simulated emergency evacuations in 2019 and 2020. “In these tests, seat size and spacing did not adversely affect the success of emergency evacuations,” according to a letter sent with the March FAA report from agency administrator Steve Dickson.

The FAA noted that its simulations involved able-bodied adults younger than age 60, in line with accepted standards for human testing.

The invitation to comment gives the public a chance to provide input on safe seat dimensions for children, passengers over 60 and the disabled, the agency said in its letter to Congress.

In its notice seeking comments, the FAA noted that it is 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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