Does the aircraft seat crunch create an unsafe condition?
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Does the aircraft seat crunch create an unsafe condition?

August 21, 2019


hi there I’m Mary Kirby with runway girl network and you’ve landed on PaxEx TV Iin this episode we’re going to look at the seat crunch that is happening on aircraft around the world as airlines tighten up seat pitch and seat width there’s a devolution occurring in certain economy class cabins and our deputy editor John Walton joins us from Japan to discuss this issue but first a word from our sponsor Panasonic avionics John American Airlines recently announced that its new Boeing 737 max narrow-body aircraft are going to feature three rows with 29 inch pitch that’s kind of tight for legacy airlines the big question I guess is how low can they go. Well that’s a really interesting question isn’t it I mean you know we’ve seen concepts in the past that Aircraft Interiors Expo for example of saddle seats and seats facing each other which means you can cram people in at 27 inches we’d sort of flip down seating now one of the things that I’m concerned about of course is the safety aspects of this are you going to be able to evacuate people from an aircraft full of 28 inch pitch seats that’s that’s something has been studied enough by regulators by seat makers and by air framers. Regulators are accepting simulation testing to show that passengers can evacuate from these aircraft and they’re not they’re not demanding real-life evacuations and is this something we should be concerned about? One of the issues with the evacuation side of things is that the air framers are using people who are not the average mix of passengers so an Airbus did the a380 evacuation for example they use a mix of staff members and gym members in the local area now that’s not your average mix of passengers you know it’s not the families and it’s not got kids it’s not got old people it’s not got people with reduced mobility and it’s not even got the amount of hand luggage that people are carrying aboard flight these days you know British Airways permits 23 kilos of hand luggage other airlines don’t even have a hand luggage weight limit as long as you can lift it into the bin yourself you’re fine that’s not really something that’s been adequately in my view tested in the real world to ensure that passengers are safe in the event of an evacuation frustrating thing from a safety perspective is that flying is the most safe form of transportation in the world and the industry has done a great job in making the overall flight experience incredibly safe and it’s frustrating that the industry does rest on those laurels when it comes to the cabin interior. I wonder if we’ll see a renewed push from regulators on this front you know the FAA has said in the past that it would be looking at potentially doing some real-life evacuation testing and the last time we checked in with them at least so here’s hoping that that moves forward with their Medical Institute more broadly regulators have had a lot to say lately about passenger comfort and the passenger experience here in the United States United Airlines of course that recent horrific dragging incident prompted lawmakers to discuss the issue in a recent House Transportation Committee hearing John did you get a chance to check this out? I did not no one ever got unelected for saying mean things about the airlines right that and that was very much the tone of this hearing the the problem is that the aviation industry really does not want or need Congress to come in and impose regulations but the industry is not doing enough to self-regulate in a number of areas around passenger experience around customer service around the the rise of bundling and the ancillary side of things there are a lot of people who consider that the airlines are doing bates and switch around pricing right now and we know different we know that the airlines are doing all sorts of interesting things are unbundling and ancillary options but to normal passengers that doesn’t look like that and there’s a big risk that if the airlines don’t really start taking a look at what their business model is in terms of how they interact and how they position themselves with regard to passengers that regulators in the US or the European Union or even Australia will come in and say look this is not this is not something that you’re gonna be able to do anymore and and that will be an external shock and it’s a big risk for the industry well thanks so much for joining us John to talk about this really important issue of course we will be paying very close attention to how things evolve in the passenger experience space to our watchers out there join us again next time for the latest news on the passenger experience.

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  1. Of course tighter pitch hinders evacuation, but the video touched on the fact that commercial airlines are the safest form of transportation. Don't lose sight of the economics: tight seat pitch reduces fares and takes people out of cars and other much more dangerous forms of transportation, resulting in an overall reduction in human mortality.

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