09 MAY 2012: A line graph would indicate a significant pattern over the past decades. As aircraft seating has become smaller, the average weight for passengers has increased, yet there have been no changes made to the seatbelt capacity or the size of the crash test dummies used to test for safety.


The standards for seat belt regulations were written 60 years ago when the average weight for an American traveller was set at 170 lbs (77 kilos).

Today the average American man weighs 195 lbs (88 kilos) and the average woman 165 lbs (75 kilos).

This is cause for concern says Robert Salzar, scientist at the Center for Applied Biomechanics at the University of Virginia.

“If a heavier person completely fills a seat, the seat is not likely to behave as intended during a crash. The energy absorption that is built into the aircraft seat is likely to be overwhelmed and the occupants will not be protected optimally.”

Dr Salzar suggested that if the seatbelt was ineffective for a larger person, others would be in jeopardy with “the unrestrained motion of the passenger.”

The New York Times reported that Yoshihiro Ozawa, an engineer whose company, Jasti Ltd. in Japan, has been making crash dummies for 20 years commented that there was no data proving that the seats and seat belts are still appropriate for larger passengers.

Ozawa said there is no regulation enforcing testing to be done with heavier dummies.

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Jen Savedra

Jen Savedra is the founder and editor in chief of Travel Industry Today with  a long career and considerable experience in various sectors of travel and tourism. She is dedicated to producing a publication that differentiates itself from the pack. One that pulls no punches, and - along with being a forum for news and ideas - is easy to navigate and always fun to read.

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