Are heavier passengers safe on planes?

by nph | May 9th, 2012

May 9, 2012

As a nation, we have gotten heavier in the last 20 years. Yet, seats and seat belts on planes are still the same size and strength. They are made for people weighing 170 pounds, but now the average American weighs 182, reports the News Observer.

Are airplane seats and seat belts strong enough to protect heavy travelers? Some engineers and scientists are wondering.

If the seat collapses or the belt is not sufficient to hold in a heavy passenger during a crash, then not only could the passenger be injured but also those seated nearby could be endangered from “the unrestrained motion of the passenger,” one scientist opined.

Even though the Federal Airlines Administration (FAA) updated the average passenger weight to 190 pounds in 2005, an engineer said that airline-seat manufacturers’ tests have been done using the 170 pound dummies.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the FAA start collecting information about the weight and size of people flying in private planes. There have been no such recommendations concerning commercial airplanes.

What do you think about this issue, and what should be done, if anything?

If you or someone you know has had his or her safety compromised on a commercial or private airline, the aviation accident attorneys at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy may be able to help.