By Cailey Rizzo
May 02, 2019
Inti St Clair/Getty Images

When the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received its five-year reauthorization in October 2018, there was a provision that stated the administration had one year to establish minimum sizes for seat pitch, width, and length. So far, there hasn't been anything announced.

On Tuesday, three Democratic senators wrote a letter to the FAA, requesting an update on the establishment of seat-size regulations.

“Over seven months after enactment, we have yet to see FAA take any action,” the senators wrote in the letter. “This is unacceptable. We write today to request an update on finalization of this critical rule and to inquire about steps being taken by the agency to meet the one-year deadline, as required by law.”

Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Ed Markey (Mass.) wrote that they were concerned about the safety of current seat sizes. “FAA should consider how shrinking airline seats and larger Americans could be affecting safety guidelines,” the letter said. The FAA is also supposed to test how smaller seats could slow down an emergency evacuation or affect passengers’ health, in terms of deep vein thrombosis and muscle or joint problems.

The letter requests that the FAA conduct safety testing with human volunteers when establishing the new seat size standards.

The battle to establish seat size minimums has been waging for years. In June 2018, shortly before the government mandate, the FAA refused to establish seat size minimums of its own accord, saying there was “no evidence that there is an immediate safety issue necessitating rulemaking at this time.”

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