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FAA officially orders certain seats removed from smaller planes

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a proposed action last year to remove a certain type of seat from smaller, regional jets. The reason is that the seats have a defect that can turn an otherwise survivable crash into a tragedy. The agency has just announced it has made that action final.

According to the Associated Press, the seats slide forward in their tracks during crash landings, causing the passenger to strike their head or chin on the tray table of the seat in front of them. This could cause a head or brain injury, or even death.

The seats are manufactured by Zodiac Seats California, and are installed mostly on smaller jets owned by regional airlines. A total of 10,482 of this type of seats are currently known to be installed, and the FAA has ordered the removal of all of them within the next five years.

The seats are installed on a variety of small jets, including:

  • Boeing 717s
  • Boeing MD-90s
  • Bombardier Series 900s
  • Embraer 190s
  • Embraer ERJ 170s

Naturally, the seat manufacturer and some airlines affected planes had good reasons to oppose the rule. For example, the FAA estimates that the industry-wide cost of implementation will be $890,970, but several regional airlines protest that the figure is too low.

Zodiac, Bombardier aerospace of Canada and Brazil's Embraer aerospace also claim the order was based on insufficient data, and Delta has called for additional testing.

Ordinarily, their objections would have been addressed during the comment period before the rule was finalized, and any remaining objections would be considered moot. With the Trump Administration's ongoing attack on regulations, however, it's impossible to tell whether this final action is truly final.

The order can be read in the May 24, 2017, Federal Register.

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