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Seats Backward Are Safer: So Why Are'nt They Used?  
User currently offlineDsa From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 4045 times:

Hi

Was reading an article on aircraft safety and it stated that when seats were positioned backwards they are safer for some reason which I cannot be bothered to explain. The RAF use this method so why don't airlines???

DSA>>

29 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAreopagus From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1369 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 4007 times:

I rode in a backwards-facing seat in a Sabreliner. It was pretty interesting, hanging by the seatbelt on climbout, but I'm not sure my mother would agree if she tried it.

User currently offlineGVWOW From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 168 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3994 times:

They are safer in crashes. If the plane where to hit a brick wall on landing, besides probably being crushed, the G-force would press your back safely against the seat instead of your head into the seat in front of you. But, many (including myself) find them uncomfortable. When the plane takes off, instead of that great feeling of being pressed back into your seat, your are instead jerked forward... But, some airlines do use them. BA has them in ClubWorld.

User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9524 posts, RR: 42
Reply 3, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3979 times:

Marketing. The airlines don't want to risk it in case the passengers don't like facing backwards. It might be a different story if all the airlines did it but who'd dare to start the ball rolling?

User currently offlineRichardPrice From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3979 times:

Think of an airliner braking hard on the runway, going from 200mph to 10mph in a matter of a few hundred yards. Now imagine lots of debris in the cabin after a rough, maybe emergency based, landing.

Now imagine that loose debris travelling toward your face at 200mph give or take. With forward facing seats it hits the back of your headrest, but with backward facing seats it hits you full in the face.

There are benefits to backward facing seats, but there are also negatives.


User currently offlineDelta787 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 321 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3979 times:

I rode in one of those backwards facing seats on a Southwest flight once. I found it uncomfortable on takeoff and Im sure other people would. Its more of a comfort issue than anything.


Fly Delta!
User currently offlineKen777 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 8216 posts, RR: 8
Reply 6, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3979 times:

I get the backwards seat in ClubWorld every time I fly BA and actually like facing the rear in a window seat. You get the feeling of being pressed back into your seat on landing instead of takeoff and the privacy of the design is well worth it.

User currently offlinePureKiwi From New Zealand, joined Feb 2006, 183 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3979 times:

A few years ago I was at the airforce museum in Christchurch and there was a tour of the aircraft parked outside the terminal (i forgot what kind of plane it is) and the tour guide said it was safer to have the seats facing backwards but most passengers prefer to ride facing forward as some get motion sickness from moving backwards.

User currently offlineRadelow From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 426 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3953 times:

I am flying CW facing backwards on Thursday LAX>LHR. I love it...much more comfortable plus when the bed is absolutely flat there is still 3% incline (that's how the 744 cruises) which makes for comfortable sleep.

User currently offlineMustang304 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 70 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3893 times:

If you notice, most of the rearward facing seats are also attached to monuments in the cabin. The structural requirements for rearward facing seats is higher than forward facing seats.

Currently with forward facing seats, if the seat clamshells, the passenger basically crunches their head towards their knees. The seat belt is still effective in keeping the passenger secure, and most likely the passenger will not suffer as critical injuries.

However, if the seat is facing rearward, and it fails, the seat will fold flat, and the passenger could possibly then slide underneath the seatbelt. There is also a high chance that the passenger may damage their back in that kind of motion.

In the case of them being attached to a monument (galley, closet, partition), they can take advantage of the monument's structure to keep them from folding flat in a failure. The monuments are also designed to take a hell of a beating before failing. If I recall correctly the seats and galleys are designed for 16gs forward for the newer aircraft (777, 330, 737NG, 767-400).

As stated above, it is primiarly related to loose items in the cabin and to passenger comfort primarily. It would be pretty tragic to survive a rough landing and get nailed by a flying book or something....


User currently offlineDeltaDC9 From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 2844 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3849 times:

The whole lack of control thing comes to mind, which is a common complaint from people who fear flying. This would be amplified by facing rearward in my opinion. They would have a hard time getting market acceptance.


Dont take life too seriously because you will never get out of it alive - Bugs Bunny
User currently offlineKen777 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 8216 posts, RR: 8
Reply 11, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3830 times:

Quoting Mustang304 (Reply 9):
The seat belt is still effective in keeping the passenger secure, and most likely the passenger will not suffer as critical injuries.

As I recall, some years ago one of the Ford cars had a real problem with spinal injuries from the seat belts used by back seat pax.

In a plane crash pax with in a forward facing seat will have all the pressure of the impact distributed along the thin band of the seat belt. A rear facing pax will have it distributed evenly over the back, neck & head. When the weight of the pax is thrown into the equation the seat belt only pax appears to be at far more risk than the pax that has the benefit of distributing the impact over his entire body.

Either way, I don't want to be on that plane.


User currently offlineCtbarnes From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3491 posts, RR: 50
Reply 12, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3811 times:

I seem to remember BEA fitted out part of their Trident cabin with rearward facing seats, but could not find any pics in the database to verify. Can anyone else help out?

Thanks,

Charles, SJ



The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy
User currently offlineDAL767400ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 3769 times:

I would say pax feeling is the main reason for it. I mean, can you imagine a 10-hour longhaul flight, while being seated backwards the entire flight? I don't know, but in my opinion, that just appears wrong, or at least very weird. Heck, I don't like sitting in the backwards seats of busses or trains, don't even want to imagine a transatl flight.

User currently offlineBobster2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 3769 times:

It would be far safer to lock passengers in fetal position inside fireproof boxes with lots of bubble wrap packing material and crash helmets, and a parachute in case the plane breaks up in the air. Instead of bathrooms, they could just install shower heads in the jetway so people could get hosed off at the end of the flight.

User currently offlineWarreng24 From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 707 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 3682 times:

Some people get ill if they don't face the direction of travel.

I for one, tried it once on a WN jet. I think I went through at least one bag, maybe 2 and it was only a 1 hr flight.


User currently offlineCtbarnes From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3491 posts, RR: 50
Reply 16, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 3620 times:

Quoting DAL767400ER (Reply 13):
I would say pax feeling is the main reason for it. I mean, can you imagine a 10-hour longhaul flight, while being seated backwards the entire flight? I don't know, but in my opinion, that just appears wrong, or at least very weird. Heck, I don't like sitting in the backwards seats of busses or trains, don't even want to imagine a transatl flight.

BA's Club World has some seats that face rearward. Can't comment on that experience, but I have flown on WN's old configuration with the rearward facing seats and found it fine, though I do agree there is something to be said for sitting in the direction of travel, though.

Charles, SJ



The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy
User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4316 posts, RR: 28
Reply 17, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 3541 times:

Quoting GVWOW (Reply 2):
But, many (including myself) find them uncomfortable. When the plane takes off, instead of that great feeling of being pressed back into your seat, your are instead jerked forward

But you can't beat the sight of looking back at the runway after lift-off (assuming, of course, you're in a window seat).

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 4):
Now imagine that loose debris travelling toward your face at 200mph give or take. With forward facing seats it hits the back of your headrest, but with backward facing seats it hits you full in the face.

That's probably the second best explanation I've ever read about why airlines don't place seats in a rearward facing position. Nevertheless, I would imagine it's a relatively minor issue given that everything has to be secured during take-offs and landings already anyway. Of course, in a hard (crash) landing, I could see cabin pieces coming apart and turning into projectiles.

Quoting Mustang304 (Reply 9):
If you notice, most of the rearward facing seats are also attached to monuments in the cabin. The structural requirements for rearward facing seats is higher than forward facing seats.

Currently with forward facing seats, if the seat clamshells, the passenger basically crunches their head towards their knees. The seat belt is still effective in keeping the passenger secure, and most likely the passenger will not suffer as critical injuries.

However, if the seat is facing rearward, and it fails, the seat will fold flat, and the passenger could possibly then slide underneath the seatbelt. There is also a high chance that the passenger may damage their back in that kind of motion.

That's the best explanation I've ever heard regarding why airlines won't mount seats in a rearward facing position. I would imagine the seats would have to be built sturdier as well for the reasons you mention, which translates into more weight.

Quoting Delta787 (Reply 5):
I rode in one of those backwards facing seats on a Southwest flight once. I found it uncomfortable on takeoff and Im sure other people would. Its more of a comfort issue than anything.

I loved WN's old club seating arrangements and was sad to see them go. As was pointed out by others regarding other airlines, WN's rearward facing seats were always mounted against a bulkhead as well.

As for me, I loved facing rearward, especially when in a window seat. The discomfort of being pressed against the seatbelt (that sliding-off-the-seat feeling) could be addressed by simply designing the seats so that the seat bottom and seat back are reclined more.



I'm not a racist...I hate Biden, too.
User currently offlineHPRamper From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4055 posts, RR: 8
Reply 18, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 3525 times:

I would think it would give a pretty uncomfortable forward-leaning feeling given the slightly nose-high attitude of the aircraft at altitude.

User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9524 posts, RR: 42
Reply 19, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 3504 times:

Some good points about the downsides. I think the point about passenger perception is that rear facing seats would have to be shown to significantly safer (assuming it was still up to the airlines and didn't become mandatory).

User currently offlineBtriple7 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 1161 posts, RR: 8
Reply 20, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 3441 times:

Quoting Bobster2 (Reply 14):
It would be far safer to lock passengers in fetal position inside fireproof boxes with lots of bubble wrap packing material and crash helmets, and a parachute in case the plane breaks up in the air. Instead of bathrooms, they could just install shower heads in the jetway so people could get hosed off at the end of the flight.

I don't if you were being sarcastic or not, but you make a very good point.

Even if facing backwards is safer (which is debatable in and of itself), the discomforts of facing backwards far outweight the risks of being more injured in a forward-facing seat in a crash. The chances of suffering a more serious injury in a facing-foward seat versus a facing-back seat are slim to none. In the rare case that you were in a crash that caused injuries to you, the diffence between facing forward versus facing back will have little effect on the outcome unless the conditions are just right (which is extremely rare).

Air travel is safe enough where we don't have to worry about forward-facing seats. Like Bobster2 said, we could wrap ourselves in bubblewrap or wear helmets or strap ourselves in with ten different seatbelts, but all that would be ridiculous. It would be more safe, but it would still be ridiculous. The a fine line between well-minded safety and extraneous safety. When the rewards outweigh the risks, the risks are worth taking.

However!!! **DISCLAIMER** Having said all that, I still think aircraft manufactures should continue to pour millions of dollars into aviation safety. The chances of dieing in an air crash are one in a billion. We can still lower that to one in a trillion. Aviation has an excellent safety record (when compared with other industries). It would be a shame to squander that now.

Regards,
Btriple7



Just...fly.
User currently offlineLVZXV From Gabon, joined Mar 2004, 2041 posts, RR: 37
Reply 21, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 3411 times:

When your number's up, it's up. If God (or Fate) wishes you to survive a 35,000ft fall, you will. If you are meant to trip on your shoe-lace while deplaning on the last stair before you reach the tarmac and smash your face on the ground, the direction of your seat won't matter an iota.

That said, an idea which I've never known if it could be good or bad is the installation of airbags, either in the head-rests of seats or otherwise a big one on every cabin divider. There is clearly no recipe for survival, but it's just an idea...

Best regards,

ZXV

P.S. I'll count myself as one of those who really doesn't mind BA's rearward facing seats, from a photographic perspective you can get some good shots without straining your neck. And personally, I think rearward seats are more comfortable during heavy braking or the application of reverse thrust.

[Edited 2006-05-03 02:40:50]


How do you say "12 months" in Estonian?
User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9524 posts, RR: 42
Reply 22, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 3389 times:

Quoting LVZXV (Reply 21):
When your number's up, it's up. If God (or Fate) wishes you to survive a 35,000ft fall, you will. If you are meant to trip on your shoe-lace while deplaning on the last stair before you reach the tarmac and smash your face on the ground, the direction of your seat won't matter an iota.

Then why bother with any safety measures?  Smile


User currently offlineLongHauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4923 posts, RR: 43
Reply 23, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 3290 times:

Quoting Ctbarnes (Reply 12):
seem to remember BEA fitted out part of their Trident cabin with rearward facing seats, but could not find any pics in the database to verify. Can anyone else help out?

In the BEA/BA configuration: the forward half of Economy of the Trident 1 was rearward facing, as was the forward third of the Trident 2. But, in the Trident 3, only the first rows of Economy were rearward facing.

You can see the rearward facing seats here. The entrance alcove is on the left of the picture, the port side of the aircraft. At the front of the aircraft, in the forward cabin, the seats are forward facing. (As they would be, were a First Class cabin present.)


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Ian Haskell



It is less obvious in this picture, but you are actually looking at the forward part of the cabin here:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Ian Haskell



I don't know however, if any other users of Trident aircraft had rearward facing seats, other than BEA/BA. Anyone know?



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineBond007 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 5408 posts, RR: 8
Reply 24, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks ago) and read 3251 times:

Guys, the thread is about why rear facing seats are safer...which they are according to studies.

It's OK reading all the reasons why they aren't safe, but if they're safer than forward facing seats then let's discuss why airline aren't using them....and not all the reasons they are unsafe (but still safer than forward facing)... unless you're quoting reasearch that disagrees.

...probably the adverse feeling of the pax going backward IMO.

Jimbo



I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
25 SeeTheWorld : Exactly right. While studies proved having the seats backwards was safer, other in-depth studies in the 1960s or 1970s showed that a significant numb
26 Post contains images David L : And that, of course, is a very good point. The trouble is that a lot of us think that until someone we know is badly hurt or killed in an air crash.
27 Post contains images Trekster : I have just flown in from YYZ yesterday and got a rear facing seat on the upper deck Anyway. Normally when i fly, just as the plane lifts up and start
28 Post contains links MarkHKG : Actually, air-bags installed into lap-belts already do exist. They are manufactered by Amsafe in the United States, although other companies like Goo
29 Tod : 16g forward for seating, but 9g forward for everything else. Additional load requirements per 14CFR25.561: Upward, 3.0g Sideward, 3.0g on the airfram
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