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A human factors and ergonomics expert explains the importance of airline seat comfort and safety. We also talk with the founder and CEO of LiveATC.net and present our traditional Labor Day message.
Dr. Mica Endsley is the Government Relations Chair for the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society (HFES). She’s also president of SA Technologies, a situational awareness research, design, and training firm. She was formerly the Chief Scientist of the United States Air Force.
Mica joins us to talk about airline seats from comfort and safety perspectives, taking into account the scientific human factors data that is relevant to this subject. The FAA is currently addressing seat size at the direction of Congress so this is a timely topic.
Airline seating has a massive impact not only on the physical comfort but also on the psychology and overall well-being of travelers. So much so that the HFES wrote Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Policy Statement on Airline Seating [PDF] which outlines and endorses a number of changes to airline seating. HFES makes six recommendations in its report:
- The FAA should update its standards to account for widespread physical changes of the average passenger. This should reflect requiring seat widths and seat belts that accommodate 95 percent of the general population.
- The FAA should mandate a minimum seat pitch to accommodate the seated height of 95 percent of the general population (38.5”). Alternatively, 3 or 4-point restraints should be provided, as is done in some aircraft for premium cabins.
- The FAA guidelines should specify the inclusion of footrests and adjustable lumbar supports to reduce neck and back strains and injuries.
- FAA policy on emergency evacuations should include consideration for variation in waist size in addition to age and gender.
- When updating seat dimension standards, the FAA should take into consideration possible adverse health effects of airline seats and review whether larger seating spaces should be mandated for long-duration flights.
- The FAA, internally as well as through the National Academies and the National Institutes of Health, should determine whether the body of research regarding airline seat dimensions is sufficient to draw a full range of recommendations. If there is not sufficient research available, the FAA should request additional research on this topic.
Comments in response to FAA Request for Comments in Minimum Seat Dimensions Necessary for Safety of Air Passengers (Emergency Evacuation) [PDF]
Mica’s educational background is in Industrial Engineering with a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Tech University and a Master of Science degree from Purdue University. She earned her Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Southern California. Mica is recognized internationally in the field of human factors, situational awareness, and related areas. It’s very much an honor to have her speak with us today.
Rob Mark presents his annual Labor Day message.
Hillel Glazer, our Aviation Entrepreneurship and Innovation Correspondent, brings us another “Beyond the Press Release” interview from EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. This time he speaks with Dave Pascoe, the founder of LiveATC.net.
The site is a popular resource for those who enjoy listening to and talking about Air Traffic Control. LiveATC.net is a listener and advertiser-supported site: volunteers with scanners can join the network and contribute data. LiveATC.Net was the first site to provide both live and recorded ATC audio transmissions with instant archive retrieval.
Hosts this Episode
Max Flight, our Main(e) Man Micah, David Vanderhoof, Rob Mark, Brian Coleman, and Hillel Glazer.