​Airplane Seats Prove Outdated Safety Regulation

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May 8, 2012

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Researchers have released a study proving that a 60-year-old federal safety regulation is outdated when comparing airplane seats that are no-longer applicable to the average weights of today’s population.

Airplane study proves that passengers are heavier than they were 60 years ago

Some American engineers and scientists raised concerns over whether airplane seats are currently built strong enough to protect passengers weighing more, after figures released recently showed that 42% of the American population will be obese by 2030.

When the regulations were set 60-year-ago to build a seat that would optimize the absorption of a crash and survivability of the passenger it was based on the average weight of men at the time, which was 170 pounds. Today the average weight of the population is 194 pounds.

“If a heavier person completely fills a seat, the seat is not likely to behave as intended during a crash,” said Robert Salzar, a scientist at the University of Virginia. “The energy absorption that is built into the aircraft seat is likely to be overwhelmed and the occupants will not be protected optimally.”

Salzar explained that the seatbelt is also a part of the problem, if it failed to restrain a heavier person in their seat the “unrestrained motion of the passenger” could become a threat to other passengers.

“If we don’t test with heavier dummies, we won’t know if it is safe enough,” Japanese engineer Yoshihiro Ozawa, whose company makes crash test dummies, told the Times “There is no regulation that says [airlines] have to test for heavier [passengers].”