What happens if passenger weight exceeds airplane seat limit?

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Do you know what weight limit an airplane seat can handle? Since the mid-1950s, US airlines have standardized on the manufacture of armchairs that hold up to 77 pounds to maintain passenger safety. However, what to do when the population has gained enough weight to exceed this limit?

Since the average weight of Americans is 74 kg for women and 88 kg for men, several scientists and engineers have decided to conduct a series of tests to find out if this overweight could pose a risk to anyone inside the plane.

According to Robert Salzar, a scientist at the University of Virginia Center for Applied Biomechanics, the extra pounds could make the seat not behave as it should in the event of an accident. This is because, according to him, the extra weight decreases the energy absorption of the seat, which means that the passenger is not properly protected.

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But Salzar is not alone in worrying about this detail that many airlines don't seem to care about - especially because the regulation itself is out of date. In an interview with The New York Times, the engineer of a maker of models used in research testing, Yoshihiro Ozawa, explained that there is no study showing that the current limit remains as safe as in the middle of the last century.

The belt is still important

Another point made by the research is the use of the seat belt itself. As adjustable as it may be, obese passengers may have problems using them in some cases. This makes many of them prefer to fly without the attachment, putting them at risk in the event of turbulence. The problem is that, because of being overweight, these impacts can result in really serious injuries.

As Buffalo University Emergency Medical Professor Dietrich Jehle recalls, passengers who fly without their belts can be severely injured, mainly because the impact is calculated from body mass and speed.

Source: The New York Times