Published 7:34 PM EDT Sep 29, 2019
Could flyers expect bigger seats or more legroom in the future?
The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that it plans on conducting evacuation testing later this year to determine how easily passengers are able to exit an aircraft in the event of an emergency.
During a hearing with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn, argued the heights, weights and physical disabilities of Americans should be taken into account when it comes to redesigning airplanes to make them safer.
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“Americans are getting bigger, so seat size is important, but it’s got to be looked at in the context of safety,” said FAA Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell, reiterating he would get Cohen an “answer on the seat pitch in regards to safety.”
Elwell said the FAA plans to conduct 12 days of testing in November with a “good demographic sampling” of 720 volunteers, including small children and animals. FAA acting Deputy Associate Administrator Lirio Liu said the simulations will take place in a dark environment, with half of the plane’s exits blocked. Flight attendants will not know which exits are available, to mimic real-world situations.
“They try to simulate the worst-case scenario,” she added.
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