From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics- Loading and Installing Aircraft Seats

Task Prior to Abatement (Description)

An ergonomic case study for workers loading and installing aircraft seats. Seats installed in passenger compartments of large commercial aircrafts are heavy and bulky. Workers had to physically carry and position the seats on the aircraft. Seats were loaded onto the aircraft after the body was joined together. The only access into the aircraft for carrying the seats was the passenger doors. Seats were loaded and positioned into place by workers. Each seat unit had small metal wheels attached to a short piece of seat track which had been attached to where the seat will fit into the seat track. The seat is lifted by two mechanics. Finally workers carry the seats onto the aircraft and install them. Because of inadequate handholds on the seats, they could be damaged while carrying them, or they could be dropped, causing floor damage to the aircraft.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Verified Hazard)

Examination of the OSHA injury data, discussions with supervisors, mechanics, and observation of the tasks by safety team, verified the existance of ergonomics risk factors in performing the task.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Identified Hazard)

Medical cases of back injuries contributed to seat loading.

Increasing rate of absenteeism the day after seat loading.

Increasing rate of chiropractor visits the day after seat loading.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Force)

The seats weight from 150 lbs up to 250 lbs for first class seats.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Posture)

Workers had awkward postures while performing the task.

Ergonomic Solution (Administrative Controls)

  1. Participation of mechanics in the analysis, prioritization, and process examination. They were involved in use and critique of a prototype aid before final production release of the design.
  2. Organizing a cross-functional team consisting of three ergonomists, supervisor, two mechanics from the shop, an
  3. Industrial Engineer responsible for the interiors installation shop, a representative from the Tooling organization assigned to the shop, and a return – to – work representative.

Ergonomic Solution (Engineering Controls)

  1. A process change including the use of a truck in which the van part is on a scissor lift that can be raised to the level of the passenger doors from ground level, providing the other doors available for loading were considered. This process would cut down the distance the seats have to be moved.
  2. A new cart was designed in order to allow the seats to be rolled from the van onto the cart without lifting.
  3. A temporary device was designed to attach the seat to in order to provide handholds for up to four workers.
  4. A second prototype universal cart was developed to use for both seat loading and cart lifting (This prototype is being examined for its applications.)

Ergonomic Solution (Benefits)

  • Increased productivity
  • Increased work quality
  • Decrease of work-related injury and discomfort among workers.


It is essential that a prototype be developed. There should be open communication between workers and the designer for developing a successful tool.


Carnahan, Timothy R., 1995, Aircraft Interiors Installation Aids, Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, Advances in Industrial Ergonomics and Safety VII.