There is distressing news coming out of Long Beach’s Aircraft Interiors trade show this week.
Journalists are reporting that most aircraft seats being showcased are below our minimum standards of 18″ width and 28″ pitch in economy class.
Manufacturers “confident” seats will pass certification
With the usual hubris, US airlines seem unafraid of a potential US court moratorium on these tight seats, said one source, because “the FAA would have to admit wrongdoing in certifying high-density LOPAs (Layout of Passenger Accommodations), nullifying many years of its own safety work and data.”
And continued, “It would be difficult to imagine the FAA would ground Boeing [for sub-standard size seats], the agency wouldn’t even consider it.”
The inconvenient truth is that regulators did ground Boeing’s 787s for 123 days in 2013 for its lithium battery issues.Our advice to regulators is to warn airframers now that they may not certify new sub-18″ seat width configurations – which would give them time to change.
The aircraft expo reveals that the race is on to squeeze more and more seats into a finite space. But It should not take a forced landing followed by a major fire that kills most of the passengers to change the situation.
“Innovative” seating, aka high-density sardine seating has propelled the airlines to post their highest margins yet, as it is another way to get passengers to spend more money to upgrade to premium economy. Is there a physical limit to the amount of average-sized humans one can squeeze into a given space? It would not seem so at the 2017 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Long Beach. Nearly all airline seat manufacturers now offer a high-density seating plan with 27 inch seat pitch. Can cabin crew be expected to evacuate all passengers in 90 seconds? People will never get out of the row in time.
Unspoken Issues, no satisfactory answers
The situation brings testimony to the hypothesis of some kind of hush-hush agreement between industry actors: Boeing, Airbus, FAA and EASA.These controversial tight cabins’ live emergency evacuations have been replaced by a simple computer-simulation paperwork and LOPA safety clearance.
The prospect remains that our next flight may well be our last one due to ignorance or misconception by equipment manufacturers, cabin interior designers and architects. Airbus, Boeing, FAA and EASA have cooked the rules of air transport Safety.
But there are other interests involved – where are the Flight Attendant Unions? Have they been invited into this hush-hush club?