The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says it sees no immediate safety reason to stop airlines from continuing to shrink the size of passenger seats and decreasing seat pitch.
“The FAA has no evidence… that current seat dimensions (width and pitch) hamper the speed of passenger evacuation, or that increasing passenger size creates an evacuation issue,” Dorenda Baker, FAA’s executive director for aviation safety, wrote in response to a petition submitted by the passenger advocacy group FlyersRights.
The FAA had previously rejected the group’s plea for stricter regulation of seat sizes, but was ordered to reconsider by a federal court.
In a statement on Twitter, FlyersRights said the FAA’s “proof that sardine seating is fine are videos of unrepresentative test subjects doing truncated partial evacuations.”
“The FAA refuses to recognize reality or do any emergency evacuation tests that reflect the actual passenger profile by size, age, physical capacity or emotional state of mind,” the group stated.
Baker said that passengers in the evacuation test videos submitted by airlines had no problem exiting rows in a speedy manner.
“The time it takes passengers to get out of their seats, even if those seats are relatively narrow and close together, is less than the time it takes for the emergency exits to begin functioning and for the line that begins to form in the aisle to clear,” she wrote in the July 2, 2018 letter to FlyersRights President Paul Hudson.