FAA Now Allows Less Headroom on Aircraft

Note to LeBron James and the Cavs: You might want to sit in the back of the plane.

Until recently, the Federal Aviation Administration required that the front rows of all aircraft be far enough back from the bulkhead so even the tallest person would not hit his head if he pitched forward during an emergency or turbulence.

Under a new interpretation of safety regulations, the FAA allows manufacturers of airplanes to shorten that space. The National Air Traffic Controllers Union says the result will be that passengers taller than 5-feet-9 might hit their heads if they pitch forward.

The rule applies mainly to the coach section but could also apply to first class.

"They are doing it to save money for the airline industry, and we understand that," said union spokesman Tomaso DiPaolo. "But they should warn the public, like they do with people sitting in the exit row - let them know what is expected of them."

FAA spokesman Les Dorr said: "We conducted risk analysis and determined that the improvement in safety [by keeping the front row of seats as far back from the bulkhead as they are now] is not worth the cost."

DiPaolo said the FAA declined to put up signs warning taller passengers to avoid the first row for their own safety. Dorr said the airlines themselves may wish to warn taller passengers.

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