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benbeny
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Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:01 pm

Apologies if this has been discussed lately.
Should govt regulate minimum seat pitch? I found a 2006 study titled "Anthropometric study to update minimum aircraft seating standards" that said:

The dimensions of A, B and C are probably the most critical but the current
minima need to be increased. The current requirement for dimension A, for
example, will only accommodate up to 77th%ile of the European population
(based on buttock-knee lengths). Dimensions B and C will accommodate even
fewer passengers (based on whole body depth measurements).

It is recommended that dimension A (seat back cushion to back of seat in front)
be increased to at least 711mm (28.2") to accommodate up to the 95th%ile
European seated passenger (minimum recommendation). This allows for an
additional 25mm (1") of knee clearance to the back of the seat in front, which
ideally should be afforded to ensure that the knees do not contact the seat in front
(i.e. the passenger should not be jammed in) and to improve ease of access/egress,
to allow for some postural flexibility. The ideal recommendation would be to
increase dimension A to at least 747mm (29.4" – 99%ile world).
Furthermore AN64 currently only considers the seats when in the upright position.

In order to ensure passengers have adequate space when seated, dimension A, and [the proposed foot clearance envelopes, should be measured with the seat in front
in the recline position.
The current requirement also does not provide enough space for taller passengers
to adopt the ‘brace’ position, and, depending upon the outcome of any further
work to specify an optimum safe brace position dimension A would need to
increase to at least 885mm (35").

The current 635mm (25") vertical space requirement for dimension A also needs
to be increased (ideally to 662mm (26")) to take account of passengers’ sitting
knee heights.


Considering seat thickness, the recommended minimum pitch is then about 31"-32" based on anthropometric data.
I always heard that aviation is first about safety, before anything else. Why wouldn't regulators regulate minimum safe pitch? I think it's safe to say that 29" seat pitch is unsafe because people can't even sit properly without hitting their knees to the front seat, and we haven't talked about ideal seat pitch for bracing position, which is at least around 37" based on study above.
What do you think? Should we regulate minimum seatback to seat front distance? Any inputs will be much appreciated.
 
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TWA772LR
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:12 pm

While comfort is nice, I still think it's based off of the capacity as allowed by the number of exits. Aviation authorities can reduce the number of people per exit to artificially increase/impose a minimum pitch, which is pretty much in place allowing 28 inches on a 737 or 320. But then the airlines (especially LCCs) can cry wolf (rightfully so, IMO) that it dramatically increases their costs and makes them less competitive to legacies and hurting competition. Money talks and the consumer is going towards bare bones service via their wallets.

Semi existential question, if exit limits for the 738 and 320 were raised to, say, 220, would the likes of FR and NK cram more seats in to a potential 27 inch, or lower, pitch?
When wasn't America great?


The thoughts and opinions shared under this username are mine and are not influenced by my employer.
 
benbeny
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:17 pm

My main concern is not comfort actually, it's safety. Such a narrow seat pitch increases likelihood that your knees are pressed against the seatback in front of you, and I can never imagine that it's safe in emergency. And the ideal bracing position for taller people requires 35" seatback to seat front distance. Is it even safe to reduce seat pitch from 31"-32" to 28"-29" for emergency landing?
 
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SQ22
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:23 pm

Can you please provide a link to the study, thanks.
 
benbeny
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:28 pm

SQ22 wrote:
Can you please provide a link to the study, thanks.

Sure, here you are.
https://repository.lboro.ac.uk/articles/report/Anthropometric_study_to_update_minimum_aircraft_seating_standards/9353039
And it's 2001 study, my bad.
 
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SQ22
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:44 pm

benbeny wrote:


Thanks, please always provide a link to your source when stating facts.
 
benbeny
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:48 pm

SQ22 wrote:
Thanks, please always provide a link to your source when stating facts.

I'm sorry, tried to edit but the time limit has apparently passed.
 
2eng2efficient
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 6:06 pm

Quoting the linked study:
“The specific aim [of the study] is to ensure that seating standards are such that passengers would be able to quickly evacuate an aircraft in the event of an emergency.”

Note that the study was commissioned by the UK Joint Aviation Authorities.

Don’t regulators periodically hold full scale evacuation drills to test whether a given aircraft and configuration can fully evacuate within 90 seconds? I would hope that the FRs and NKs of the world are periodically tested in this regard.

Even then, a plane full of people that know it’s a drill is not the same as real world conditions. If I had a dime for every time I witness people put the tray table back down during takeoff or right before landing on F9 or G4…

I pray it never happens, but 28 inch seat pitch would be put to the real test in a burning plane filled with screaming people in a ditch at the end of a runway.
 
Tailwinds
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 6:20 pm

I'd rather see a defined standard that's required to be displayed while purchasing, so people can easily choose between 28" and 32" as they please. Right now it takes resources like SeatGuru and a bit of airplane nerdery to really know what you're getting in to. Pitch is a poor marker, though, as it is confounded by seat thickness. Maybe take the average of usable distance at hip and face level?
 
benbeny
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Posts: 250
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 6:37 pm

Tailwinds wrote:
I'd rather see a defined standard that's required to be displayed while purchasing, so people can easily choose between 28" and 32" as they please. Right now it takes resources like SeatGuru and a bit of airplane nerdery to really know what you're getting in to. Pitch is a poor marker, though, as it is confounded by seat thickness. Maybe take the average of usable distance at hip and face level?

I agree, I think it describes more accurately about usable pax space than seat pitch measurements
 
bennett123
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 6:43 pm

Personally, I could go down to 27", but I am only 5'7". How someone 6' would cope I don't know. There is also the DVT issue on longer flights.

Something I find a bigger problem is width. As people get bigger, this will also be a problem.
 
DenverTed
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 8:40 pm

I'd imagine a lap belt is as good as useless, as they don't work in cars. The brace position makes no sense, unless there is enough clearance that your head does not impact the seat ahead. If your head impacts, that's a major head injury. If you can't even lie flat on your legs, and your head and spine are at a 45 degree angle to the seat ahead, basic physics will snap your neck and spine. If I though I was going to be in a front impact crash, I would take off my seat belt and brace with my legs against the seat ahead. I don't think landing head first is the preferred strategy for falling off a building, a bike, or on skis.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 9:50 pm

2eng2efficient wrote:
I pray it never happens, but 28 inch seat pitch would be put to the real test in a burning plane filled with screaming people in a ditch at the end of a runway.


Put to you and the OP:

What's the evidence that survivable crashes have more injuries and fatalities due to tight seat pitch? I'm not looking for your imagination - there are experts that have been studying this for five decades. Does the FAA have a current proposal for rulemaking that identifies the tested 90-second evacuation rule (since 1967!) as inadequate?

OP is ready to knock 12% of the people of the plane for what appears to be a very low probability incident. Think about what that would do for industry economics and the affordability of travel. Tall people can buy C or Y+, or fly another airline, if they don't like sub-31" pitch.
 
hayzel777
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 10:02 pm

If this were ever to become a thing, airlines should just thin the seat out. Remove all the padding and move all the essential equipment that may be in the seat back to under the seat (thereby reducing the room down there). The seat basically becomes a metal plate with a cloth/faux leather covering. If the recline part takes too much room, just make them no recline.

Can’t say the lack of recline or feet space is unsafe!
 
IADFCO
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 10:15 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
[...]
OP is ready to knock 12% of the people of the plane for what appears to be a very low probability incident. Think about what that would do for industry economics and the affordability of travel. Tall people can buy C or Y+, or fly another airline, if they don't like sub-31" pitch.


Think about how many other things affect negatively industry economics and affordability of travel. Why have so many redundant hydraulic circuits, or flight control computers, or angle of attack sensors, or so many tens of minutes of fuel reserves for what appear to be very low probability incidents?
 
arcticcruiser
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 10:20 pm

The only country that regulated minimum seat pitch to my knowledge was the UK and voilà thats what the UK charter carriers set as standard. 28”. Almost 300 people in an 8 across 762. Or 235 in a 752. And flew people to really faraway places with fuel stops.
 
zuckie13
Posts: 406
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 10:44 pm

TWA772LR wrote:
While comfort is nice, I still think it's based off of the capacity as allowed by the number of exits. Aviation authorities can reduce the number of people per exit to artificially increase/impose a minimum pitch, which is pretty much in place allowing 28 inches on a 737 or 320. But then the airlines (especially LCCs) can cry wolf (rightfully so, IMO) that it dramatically increases their costs and makes them less competitive to legacies and hurting competition. Money talks and the consumer is going towards bare bones service via their wallets.

Semi existential question, if exit limits for the 738 and 320 were raised to, say, 220, would the likes of FR and NK cram more seats in to a potential 27 inch, or lower, pitch?


First off, I think changing exit limits artificially is not the answer. Exit rules should be based on good study - this size door can exit this many folks in the given time.

The whole reason there are enough exits to allow the current 28 inch type capacities is because airlines asked for it - so the manufacturers built it that way.

I'd much rather it be a well thought out actual seat pitch based on a real study.
 
UA735WL
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 11:31 pm

I do wonder if an accident involving a tightly packed aircraft with 28" pitch would result in seat pitch being regulated; I could easily see that the mayhem of everyone getting up and trying to get out at once combined with any sort of obese passengers getting stuck could very quickly lead to people getting stuck in middle and window seats. Real world conditions are always worse than the ideal conditions practiced in the evacuation tests.
"One test is worth a thousand expert opinions" -Tex Johnston
 
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TWA772LR
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Sun Jul 18, 2021 11:33 pm

zuckie13 wrote:
TWA772LR wrote:
While comfort is nice, I still think it's based off of the capacity as allowed by the number of exits. Aviation authorities can reduce the number of people per exit to artificially increase/impose a minimum pitch, which is pretty much in place allowing 28 inches on a 737 or 320. But then the airlines (especially LCCs) can cry wolf (rightfully so, IMO) that it dramatically increases their costs and makes them less competitive to legacies and hurting competition. Money talks and the consumer is going towards bare bones service via their wallets.

Semi existential question, if exit limits for the 738 and 320 were raised to, say, 220, would the likes of FR and NK cram more seats in to a potential 27 inch, or lower, pitch?


First off, I think changing exit limits artificially is not the answer. Exit rules should be based on good study - this size door can exit this many folks in the given time.

The whole reason there are enough exits to allow the current 28 inch type capacities is because airlines asked for it - so the manufacturers built it that way.

I'd much rather it be a well thought out actual seat pitch based on a real study.

Just saying it could happen and in a way already is. For the US, if the right airlines pay, I mean lobby the right congressmen, then they could have the people per exit lowered this killing Spirit, Frontier, etc...
When wasn't America great?


The thoughts and opinions shared under this username are mine and are not influenced by my employer.
 
zuckie13
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:24 am

TWA772LR wrote:
zuckie13 wrote:
TWA772LR wrote:
While comfort is nice, I still think it's based off of the capacity as allowed by the number of exits. Aviation authorities can reduce the number of people per exit to artificially increase/impose a minimum pitch, which is pretty much in place allowing 28 inches on a 737 or 320. But then the airlines (especially LCCs) can cry wolf (rightfully so, IMO) that it dramatically increases their costs and makes them less competitive to legacies and hurting competition. Money talks and the consumer is going towards bare bones service via their wallets.

Semi existential question, if exit limits for the 738 and 320 were raised to, say, 220, would the likes of FR and NK cram more seats in to a potential 27 inch, or lower, pitch?


First off, I think changing exit limits artificially is not the answer. Exit rules should be based on good study - this size door can exit this many folks in the given time.

The whole reason there are enough exits to allow the current 28 inch type capacities is because airlines asked for it - so the manufacturers built it that way.

I'd much rather it be a well thought out actual seat pitch based on a real study.

Just saying it could happen and in a way already is. For the US, if the right airlines pay, I mean lobby the right congressmen, then they could have the people per exit lowered this killing Spirit, Frontier, etc...


Sorry, couldn't stop laughing - you implied congress could do something - these days two members of congress can't even agree to walk through an open door.
Also - Spirit, Frontier, etc have plenty of money - they can probably bribe equally as well as the others at this point.
 
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CarlosSi
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:22 am

Heck I’d test the waters with those stand up seats. If people want to pay for those seats, let them (assuming the exit limit is not exceeded and a determination has been made that safety or health is not impeded (Which it might..)).

I guess the problem being.. I seriously would hope businesses who pay the cheapest fare for their employees to travel don’t force them to take the stand up seat...
 
luv2cattlecall
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:31 am

I'm 6'5" and can handle the ULCCs. I have the option to pay extra for more legroom (such as stretch seating on F9), but even on a 3 hour flight, I generally don't.

The great fares keep me off of the roads, which on the scheme of things probably leads to a lower chance of fatality vs mandating more legroom, which means higher fares, which means more driving.
 
N292UX
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:13 am

I feel like we will eventually see someone roll out 27 inches of seat pitch. Not sure who that will be but I wouldn't put it past some carriers.
 
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TWA772LR
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:29 am

zuckie13 wrote:
Sorry, couldn't stop laughing - you implied congress could do something -

You're right. How silly of me!
When wasn't America great?


The thoughts and opinions shared under this username are mine and are not influenced by my employer.
 
Tokyo777
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Mon Jul 19, 2021 4:34 am

The airplanes themselves do have pitch minimums due to floor loading.

Also, larger pitch, after a certain distance (~34") actually becomes less-safe. Nowadays, most aircraft are 16g, so the seats are dynamically tested. The larger the pitch, the more time the head has to accelerate before hitting the seat in front, which results in larger and more injurious forces.

In a real emergency crash (the unexpected ones; the 'survivable crash'), your head is going to hit the seat in front of you. And, according to the testing, not only will your survive, but you'll have enough wits about you to get out of the plane before it's engulfed in flames, albeit with a headache.
 
2eng2efficient
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:19 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
2eng2efficient wrote:
I pray it never happens, but 28 inch seat pitch would be put to the real test in a burning plane filled with screaming people in a ditch at the end of a runway.


Put to you and the OP:

What's the evidence that survivable crashes have more injuries and fatalities due to tight seat pitch? I'm not looking for your imagination - there are experts that have been studying this for five decades. Does the FAA have a current proposal for rulemaking that identifies the tested 90-second evacuation rule (since 1967!) as inadequate?

OP is ready to knock 12% of the people of the plane for what appears to be a very low probability incident. Think about what that would do for industry economics and the affordability of travel. Tall people can buy C or Y+, or fly another airline, if they don't like sub-31" pitch.


Good question. Last year the FAA’s Inspector General published a report that argues the FAA’s evacuation evaluation standards are out of date. Quoting:

“FAA’s process for updating its evacuation standards lacks data collection and analysis on current risks. FAA largely updates evacuation standards only after accidents and it conducted its last update based on an accident in 1991. FAA also has not conducted sufficient research on passenger behaviors—such as evacuations with carry-on bags and the presence of emotional support animals—and seat dimensions to show how they affect evacuation standards.”

Source: https://www.oig.dot.gov/sites/default/f ... -16-20.pdf

Per the link, the FAA concurred with the OIG’s findings and recommendations. I would expect a current proposal for rules change will follow within the next few years, working at the speed of government.
 
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lightsaber
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:33 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
2eng2efficient wrote:
I pray it never happens, but 28 inch seat pitch would be put to the real test in a burning plane filled with screaming people in a ditch at the end of a runway.


Put to you and the OP:

What's the evidence that survivable crashes have more injuries and fatalities due to tight seat pitch? I'm not looking for your imagination - there are experts that have been studying this for five decades. Does the FAA have a current proposal for rulemaking that identifies the tested 90-second evacuation rule (since 1967!) as inadequate?

OP is ready to knock 12% of the people of the plane for what appears to be a very low probability incident. Think about what that would do for industry economics and the affordability of travel. Tall people can buy C or Y+, or fly another airline, if they don't like sub-31" pitch.

I agree with the market approach. My next flight is a 5 hour flight so I chose to pay for first (upright, not lie flat) just before prices went up. :biggrin:

So far the evacuation rule has withstood the test of time. I believe in late 2019 a test was planned. Did it happen? Defacto minimum is 28" now, but 27" should pass.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/01/faa-to- ... abins.html

The above link notes the real problem is carry on luggage and people grabbing it.

The FAA evacuation is conservative. I have no issue with the rules. If people want to pay $45+$ 9 airport fee + $5 tax +$25 bag w/tax for little space let them.

They can do the more hazardous drive (which many I know are, but due to Coronavirus and how... bad service is at airports today). e.g., I know of 8 round trips between one city pair 800 miles apart being done by car this summer. So there is only so far airlines can go. I'll personally make the trip by car later despite loving flying (I don't love food court waits longer than my layover). With two drivers, 800 miles (1280km) is easy.

Lightsaber
10 months without TV. The best decision of my life.
 
SA280
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Mon Jul 19, 2021 4:31 pm

Each combination of aircraft plus seat type is certified separately. And all of them must pass a lot of tests to be certified.

So, for all aircraft there are many seats alternatives, each of them with different certified minimum pitch. And it is also possible to happen, yet rare, a certain seat having different certified minimum pitch on different aircraft.
 
Vicenza
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Mon Jul 19, 2021 5:31 pm

IADFCO wrote:
MIflyer12 wrote:
[...]
OP is ready to knock 12% of the people of the plane for what appears to be a very low probability incident. Think about what that would do for industry economics and the affordability of travel. Tall people can buy C or Y+, or fly another airline, if they don't like sub-31" pitch.


Think about how many other things affect negatively industry economics and affordability of travel. Why have so many redundant hydraulic circuits, or flight control computers, or angle of attack sensors, or so many tens of minutes of fuel reserves for what appear to be very low probability incidents?


And any of those items can bring an aircraft down......seat pitch won't.
 
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lightsaber
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Mon Jul 19, 2021 9:38 pm

SA280 wrote:
Each combination of aircraft plus seat type is certified separately. And all of them must pass a lot of tests to be certified.

So, for all aircraft there are many seats alternatives, each of them with different certified minimum pitch. And it is also possible to happen, yet rare, a certain seat having different certified minimum pitch on different aircraft.

It is like modeling fluid flow. I imagine setting up a series of restrictions to model the exit. E.g., so many seconds for F/A to make it clear left side, open doors, and shuffle out.

Isle width plays a role.
Distance from an exit
Seat pitch at overwing exits.
Last is seat pitch, time to clear a row.

I think the right seat will work at 27". I'm not saying I'd like it, but it could work depending on isle width, exit widths, and distances.

Lightsaber
10 months without TV. The best decision of my life.
 
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DarkSnowyNight
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Re: Minimum seat pitch

Tue Jul 20, 2021 1:22 am

DenverTed wrote:
I'd imagine a lap belt is as good as useless, as they don't work in cars. The brace position makes no sense, unless there is enough clearance that your head does not impact the seat ahead. If your head impacts, that's a major head injury. If you can't even lie flat on your legs, and your head and spine are at a 45 degree angle to the seat ahead, basic physics will snap your neck and spine. If I though I was going to be in a front impact crash, I would take off my seat belt and brace with my legs against the seat ahead.



You will likely disagree, but that is a terrible idea. Your head is no better off, and you will now also likely lose your lower jaw as well in an otherwise survivable incident. I have seen this idea floated before, and it has been universally rejected by almost every safety related expert in the field.

The idea behind Brace Position is not that it is perfect, or guaranteed to save you; just that it is the best one known to vertebrates. It keeps your head below the likely path of moving objects.

Tokyo777 wrote:
Also, larger pitch, after a certain distance (~34") actually becomes less-safe. Nowadays, most aircraft are 16g, so the seats are dynamically tested. The larger the pitch, the more time the head has to accelerate before hitting the seat in front, which results in larger and more injurious forces.



To an extent. That has largely been mitigated to nothing by use of inflatable restraints built into the seat belts of affected seats. And those are not optional. A seat with an air bag cannot be occupied and must have the cushion removed, & be fully locked out in order to satisfy the applicable MEL if the device is inoperative for any reason.

This video references such a device as would be used in a pilot seat, but the concept and operation are virtually identical to what is now required for upright PAX seats of greater than 34" pitch. Relevant demonstration starts at about 0:28.
It’s perfectly natural to be surprised by something coming at you faster than light. You’d never see it coming anyway. . .
 
benbeny
Topic Author
Posts: 250
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:44 pm

Re: Minimum seat pitch

Wed Jul 21, 2021 12:30 pm

Thank you for all of your feedbacks. To accommodate 95% of people based on study required 28"+ seat to seat distance, so basically the minimum limit for seat pitch based on anthropometric data is around 31", considering the thickness of slimline seat. Sub 30" will only accommodate 77%, meaning that almost a quarter of people can't be accommodated. 12% reduction of capacity is not that bad, considering that 70% capacity restrictions from COVID can increase the operating cost by 42%, all things equal.

If aviation is all about safety, why can't regulators consider safety in evacuation process? Even 1% reduction in fatality rate can have profound impact in safety increase. It's a fact that people are getting larger and heavier, while the safety standards may not be that up to date to today's situation.

Until FAA report regarding evacuation with narrow seat pitch is available, I don't think we can definitely answer whether seat pitch affects evacuation or not. I'd like to see the report soon, but I'm not that optimistic.

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