Duckworth sponsoring new legislation that would require FAA to do more for passenger safety


CHICAGO — As millions of people pack onto planes this holiday season lawmakers in Washington are urging the Federal Aviation Administration to update emergency safety standards.

The new legislation Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth is sponsoring would require the FAA to do more to prioritize passenger safety by considering realities like seat size, carry on bags and people with disabilities when it comes to emergency evacuation protocol.

While no one wants to think about an emergency evacuation on a plane, Duckworth is introducing the Emergency Vacating of Aircraft Cabin Act. The measure urges the FAA to update its emergency evacuation standards, which Duckworth says currently require passengers to evacuate a commercial aircraft in a minute and a half.

“The FAA is still relying on the 90 second standard that was set back in the ‘60s and they’ve been simply training and testing to that standard,” Duckworth said at a news conference Friday.

While Duckworth says the FAA’s evacuation simulations found that- seat size and spacing don’t negatively effect the success of an emergency evacuation, she says the simulation only included 60 passengers and wasn’t all-inclusive.

“They ignored the millions of Americans like me living and flying with a disability or mobility issues,” she said. “It ignored young children and infants who rely on mom and dad to carry them from point a to point b

Captain Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, says it’s important for the FAA to do emergency evacuation simulations on all types of aircrafts.

“We have people from the age of 80 to 8 months old simulate that give us realistic time parameters that we know this is what it takes to get off the an airline,” Tajer said.

A spokesperson for the FAA told WGN News that an aviation safety panel reviewed about 300 evacuation scenarios and found the level of safety in emergency evacuations to be very high.  In a statement the FAA said, “The FAA is reviewing the thousands of comments it received on whether current seat size and spacing affect passenger evacuation.”

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