HL Deb 16 September 2003 vol 652 cc171-2WA
Baroness Greengross

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration they, the Joint Aviation Authorities or the Civil Aviation Authority have given to amending on grounds of safety the regulations governing the seat spacing on scheduled and charter flights to take account of (a) the increasing height and weight; and (b) the ageing of the general population. [HL4330]

Lord Davies of Oldham

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) safety requirements for seat spacing are designed to ensure that passengers can evacuate quickly and safely in the event of an emergency.

Recent research carried out by the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) has confirmed that the population body size is increasing and that the introduction of pan-European seat-spacing regulations may be appropriate. The JAA Cabin Safety Steering Group is considering the research data and is being encouraged by the CAA to reach an early decision on the introduction of a common European standard for seat spacing.

The CAA is not aware of any studies relating to the effect that ageing of the general population may have on an emergency evacuation. When new aircraft types are approved, the aircraft manufacturer is required to demonstrate that an emergency evacuation can be performed successfully.

As from 28 September 2003, the European Safety Agency (EASA) will assume responsibility for setting design standards for all aircraft registered within the European Union. These design standards will include emergency evacuation. With effect from this date the CAA will have no power to implement seat-spacing standards which differ from those set by the agency. The output of the JAA Cabin Safety Steering Group will be transmitted to the agency.

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