FlyersRights Responds to FAA’s Argument That It Does Not Need To Follow the Congressional Mandate To Establish Seat Size Standards

May 2, 2022
FlyersRights.org filed its reply brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in its lawsuit seeking to compel the FAA to issue the minimum seat size standards required by Congress in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act.

WASHINGTON , May 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- FlyersRights.org, the largest airline passenger rights organization, has filed its reply brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in its lawsuit seeking to compel the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to issue the minimum seat size standards required by Congress in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act. The statutory deadline passed more than two and a half years ago. The FAA, days before it filed its brief in April, released a May 2020 report and a January 2021 Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) report. The FAA argued that it does not need to set minimum seat standards.

Paul Hudson, the president of FlyersRights.org remarked, "The FAA's argument that its general authority to promote aviation safety overrides the clear and specific Congressional mandate to set seat standards is preposterous. The law is clear, and the FAA must set minimum seat size standards."

The FAA, in its responsive brief, declared that it had not merely been "twiddl[ing] their thumbs." The FAA also argued that its studies, including the recently published CAMI study "have not, in the agency's view, demonstrated that new seat-dimension regulations are necessary to protect passenger safety."

The CAMI study excluded passenger test subjects who could not fit in smaller airline seats. Sixty percent (60%) of the passenger test subjects believed it would be "difficult" or "very difficult" to get out of a 26 inch (pitch) seat. Even more significantly, nearly seventy-seven percent (76.9%) of the 712 passenger test subjects thought that the seat would be "unsafe" or "very unsafe" in a flight two hours or longer. Passenger test subjects who could not fit in the 28 inch seat or who self-reported that they could not fit in the 26 inch seat were not included in the above figures.

FlyersRights.org is represented in the current lawsuit by Public Citizen Litigation Group, USCA Case # 22-1004. 

FlyersRights.org's reply brief can be viewed at: https://bit.ly/FR0502221

The FAA's response brief can be accessed at: https://bit.ly/FR0429221

The January 2021 CAMI study can be found at: https://bit.ly/FR0429222

The May 2020 Emergency Evacuation Standards Aviation Rulemaking Committee report can be found here: https://bit.ly/FR0429223

FlyersRights.org maintains up to date passenger rights information at www.flyersrights.org and also provides passengers with legal information and appropriate contacts by phone, 877-FLYERS-6 and by email, [email protected].