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NYT -Heavy Passengers On Planes

Wed May 09, 2012 4:47 pm

Wow, interesting article on how current safety standards for seats and seatbelts may be obsolete, given how much heavier people have become. Link here.

More than six decades ago, when the federal standards on the strength of airplane seats and seat belts were written, government regulations specified that seats be designed for a passenger weight of 170 pounds. But now the average American man weighs nearly 194 pounds and the average woman 165.

“If a heavier person completely fills a seat, the seat is not likely to behave as intended during a crash,” said Robert Salzar, the principal scientist at the Center for Applied Biomechanics 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.”
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RE: NYT -Heavy Passengers On Planes

Wed May 09, 2012 6:01 pm

This 'out of date' average weight calculation was also in small part to blame for the US Airways Express Flight 5481 crash that occurred in 2003. I just watched a program on it last weekend about how they had factored for the old weight average of 175lb to calculate the passengers' weight when in fact most of the passengers were nearer 200lb.
The underlying cause of the crash was caused by the incorrect setting on the elevator control cable by some newbie technician but the weight did play a role.