The Federal Aviation Administration declined to provide an Opposing view. Excerpts from a decision by Dorenda Baker, executive director of FAA Aircraft Certification, turning down a petition to regulate seat sizes.
The FAA has no evidence, and nothing in your petition demonstrates that current seat dimensions (width and pitch) hamper the speed of passenger evacuation, or that increasing passenger size creates an evacuation issue.
The time it takes passengers to get out of their seats, even if those seats are relatively narrow and close together, is less than the time it takes for the emergency exits to begin functioning and for the line that begins forming in the aisle to clear. This is demonstrated during evacuation tests, several videos of which are now available for public view. This timeline has been repeatedly demonstrated during evacuation tests.
The FAA has no evidence that a typical passenger, even a larger one, will take more than a couple of seconds to get out his or her seat. Moreover, the FAA does not expect seat pitch to drop so significantly from current levels that it meaningfully affects evacuation speed.
Your petition claims that emergency evacuation demonstrations do not consider human factors, such as older passengers, passengers with children, or passengers with disabilities, who may need more time to evacuate. This is true for several reasons, but it is does not invalidate those tests.
Injuries, even serious ones, occur during emergency evacuation demonstrations. Thus, the FAA has chosen not to require elderly passengers or children in demonstration tests after learning that they are more likely to sustain injury.
The FAA continues to regard the issues and requested actions from your petition as having a lower priority than the other issues before the FAA, and, given the FAA’s limited rulemaking resources, those resources will be dedicated to higher priorities.