HC Deb 19 March 2001 vol 365 cc24-5W
Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received regarding the spacing of seats in economy sections of passenger airlines; if he proposes to introduce minimum space requirements; and if he will make a statement [154130]

Mr. Robert Ainsworth

The Secretary of State has received a limited number of letters from members of the public about the spacing of seats in economy class. There have been statutory requirements for minimum seat pitch on UK-registered aircraft since 1989, introduced for safety reasons related to the evacuation of an aircraft in an emergency.

In their response to the recent House of Lords Select Committee inquiry into air travel and health, the Government referred to CAA-funded research into seat size and spacing. The study, carried out on behalf of the JAA, is considering the relationship between aircraft seat dimensions and passenger sizes. The work looks at the changing size of the European population but also includes a review of recent DVT research. The report

indicates additional areas where further work may be necessary. The study (and any subsequent follow-on study) will provide the Government with the information necessary to review current regulations on seat spacing. In the light of the study DETR and the CAA will also consider the scope for developing unambiguous definitions for seat dimensions for use in informing passengers of the seat size and space available on a flight.