The Federal Aviation Administration is using an Oklahoma testing facility to investigate if the distance between airplane passenger seats play a role in emergency evacuations.
It was Congress who requested the team at the Mike Monroney Aeronautics Center to take up the task of seeing what role airplane passenger seats play during times of emergency. The state-of-the-art research plane used for testing will have the ability to simulate floods, storms and realistic evacuations.
Researchers can also set up the seats in different configurations to test what Congress asked them to do through the FAA Re-Authorization Act of 2018; figure out if the dimensions of airplane seats effect evacuations.
"We have the capability of setting up a variety of configurations, so that we can include humans in the testing and come up with some empirical data to inform our regulatory decisions about safety," said Stacey Zinke-McKee of the Protection and Survival Research Laboratory.
The scientist also said they haven't done testing on seating before, but they have done other test in the past. This is all with the same goal to see what factors impact emergency plane evacuations.
"We have studied here a lot about the exit flow rate. How quickly can people get through the door, down a slide or even out of an over-wing exit. That is usually the bottleneck on an evacuation," said Richard DeWeese from the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute.
The FAA research team will start gathering data over these next couple months and hope to finish in December. They plan to publish a final report on their findings sometime next summer.