That question has been put before the public as part of a regulatory process mandated by Congress in 2018, Simple Flying reported. Lawmakers directed the FAA to establish a minimum standard size for seats on airplanes, which the agency has yet to do.
But after years of inaction, the agency has signaled that it is considering implementing the regulation, USA Today reported. It will open a 90-day public comment period on the issue once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.
The push for larger seats has been ongoing for years as airlines have sought to pack as many passengers on planes as possible. In January, the advocacy organization FlyersRights sued the agency for failing to implement the minimum seat standards.
“Shrinking seat sizes coupled with increasing passenger size can pose safety and health risks, including for emergency evacuations, according to FlyersRights.org and other health and safety experts,” the group said in a statement at the time.
The group’s president, Paul Hudson, previously said tighter seats can increase the risk of health problems, especially on longer flights.
The FAA is concerned about emergency evacuations as well. The agency conducts safety tests in Oklahoma, The Points Guy reported, to gather data on how efficiently passengers can exit a plane in different seating configurations.
The agency has told Congress that the tests show the current level of safety for evacuations remains acceptable.