(CNN) – The US Federal Aviation Administration is seeking feedback from the public about commercial airliner seat size – from a safety perspective.
“The FAA is inviting public comment to assist the agency in determining minimum dimensions (including pitch, width, and length) of passenger seating that may be necessary for safety, including in particular the evacuation of the aircraft,” the request states.
In a statement to CNN, the FAA outlined additional safety considerations.
“FAA regulations require all transport class aircraft to be able to perform a rapid evacuation in the event of a fire. Other FAA evacuation requirements address real-world conditions, landing gear failure, and egress failure, among other things.”
Comments are open to the public until November 1.
What not to comment
The comments sought by the agency are limited to safety considerations.
The FAA said in its Federal Register notice that issues “such as how passenger seat dimensions relate to passenger comfort or convenience” were not part of its request for comment.
The report was the result of a directive that was included in the FAA’s Reauthorization Act of 2018.
A number of agencies and industry representatives — including the National Transportation Safety Board, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and pilots and flight attendant associations — have been involved in reviewing evacuations that have taken place on aircraft in the past decade.
The group made to the FAA 27 recommendations on how to improve the safety of these evacuations, such as reviewing emergency lighting systems to determine if higher lighting levels are needed.
Also tied to the FAA’s reauthorization law, 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 filed with the FAA’s report. FEMA issued in March of the agency’s director Steve Dixon.
The FAA indicated that their simulations included healthy adults under the age of 60, in line with accepted standards for human testing.
In its letter to Congress, the agency said the call for comment provides the public with an opportunity to provide information about safe seat dimensions for children and passengers over the age of 60 with disabilities.
In its request for suspension notice, the FAA noted that it is particularly interested in technical data and information.
Top image: Airplane seats (Adobe Stock)
CNN’s Marnie Hunter contributed to this report.
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