June 10th, 2002

Passenger Wins Suit Over Airplane Seating Space

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A passenger who flew economy class on a Trans-Atlantic flight from the UK to Canada sued JMC
Airlines over the “intolerable” 29-inch seat pitch. A UK Judge awarded the passenger approximately $800 USD, or about the cost of a round trip ticket.

The judge suggested a minimum pitch of 34-inches “to provide for people in the normal range of adult height.” A 2001 report concluded that a minimum seat pitch of 35 inches would better accommodate more passengers. It is not known if the Judge consulted this document titled “Anthropometric Study to Update Minimum Aircraft Seating Standards”.

Ergoweb first reported on this study in November of 2001. The study was initiated by the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) under the United Kingdom (UK) Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) funding. It found that the current minimum spacing and design standards for transport-category aircraft allow for too-tight seating, and new standards are needed regarding minimum seat width and a minimum area for feet. Specifically it cites that the CAA’s minimum dimensions need to be expanded by at least 3 inches in terms of seat pitch, or the space between rows of seats, and by as much as 10 inches to more adequately accommodate tall people.

The purpose of the study was to ensure that seating standards are such that passengers would be able to quickly evacuate an aircraft in the event of an emergency. Thus, the study considered seating accommodation against expected population body dimensions. The health implications of aircraft seating were also considered, specifically the occurrence and prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Comfort aspects of aircraft seating did not form part of the research study.



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