Former pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger is warning the public about the dangers of airlines that make seats smaller in order to make more money.
Sullenberger, whose amazing emergency landing was portrayed in the film “Miracle on the Hudson,” called for the the Federal Aviation Administration to act in a tweet on Sept. 20:
Airlines continue to make seats smaller to increase revenue despite safety concerns. @FAAnews must require more realistic demonstrations, not just simulations, to prove planes can be evacuated quickly. https://t.co/kVPjbfhbz9
— Sully Sullenberger (@Captsully) September 20, 2018
Sullenberger linked to a New York Times editorial board opinion that questioned whether passengers can evacuate with less space.
Aviation lawyer and pilot Brian Alexander agreed with Sullenberger’s concerns on WABC:
People are bigger than they used to be. So we’re making the aisle smaller and the seats narrower. Sounds like a recipe for a dangerous situation.
The idea that you should be taking out your phone to film all this, you should be focused on saving yourself, saving others, and only that.
The FAA claims that seat pitch (the space from the back of your seat to the back of the seat in front of you) below 30 inches isn’t common, but some airlines such as Spirit reportedly have a seat pitch of 28 inches.
Passenger advocacy groups have repeatedly petitioned the FAA for seat size guidelines, but the FAA has protected the airlines with a plea of not knowing:
The FAA has no evidence showing that current seat dimensions hamper the speed of passenger evacuation, or that increased passenger size creates an evacuation issue.
The FAA requires that a plane evacuation must occur in 90 seconds and says that videotaped demonstrations have proven it can be done.
Critics claim these evacuation demonstrations are often done by simulators, and need to use elderly patients and carry-on baggage to be realistic.