Where is the safest place to sit on an airplane?

The safest place to sit on a flight


The safest place to sit on an aircraft

Is one seat safer than another? Interior Boeing 777-200 Malaysia Airlines.

When others learn I’m an aviation analyst, the most frequent question I get is, “What’s the safest place to sit on an aircraft?”

I recently had university students ask this question of me and they were surprised with my answer.

The Safest Seat on an Aircraft

Simply put, there isn’t a safest seat or place to sit on a commercial aircraft.

That said, travel by commercial aircraft is among the safest modes of transportation. Your drive to the airport is more dangerous than the flight.

Currently, many popular myths exist on the topic. Some say the rear of the plane is the safest while others argue sitting by the wing is better. Most of these myths are propagated by ill-informed news media and popular television shows such as “Mythbusters.”

Each time there’s an aircraft accident the circumstances are different. If you look at the Asiana crash in San Francisco, the main landing gear and tail impacted first. In other accidents, the front takes the brunt, leaving the tail last to impact.

Based on these two examples alone, there’s no way to say one seat is safer than another.

When you take your seat, identify the two nearest exits and have a plan of action, should the unexpected occur.

In a recent discussion, I posed this question to Dr. Oliver McGee, aerospace engineer and former Deputy Assistant Secretary to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) during the Clinton Administration.

McGee responded, “There is really no scientific evidence as to the safest seat on a plane.”

“An airplane is like an auditorium in the sky,” continued McGee.

Using the auditorium analogy, McGee opined, “Passengers have to pre-plan and establish a guide path of exit in case a 90 second emergency exit procedure is suddenly required, like what was witnessed on television moments after the Asiana crash in San Francisco this summer.”

McGee concluded, “Seat placement in proximity of an emergency exit could be optimum.”

Emergency Exit on Aircraft

Aircraft Emergency Exit – Know where it is.

Airplane Accidents and Evacuations

Currently we’re in the safest era of commercial aviation safety. Findings by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) combined with safety requirements mandated by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have played an important role.

McGee is also on record as a proponent of the 16 g seating standard the FAA now requires on new aircraft.

Between quality aircraft engineering and the requirement seats withstand 16 G’s, most accidents are survivable.

Next time you board a flight, listen to the safety announcement and locate your nearest exits. Otherwise, kick back, relax and enjoy your flight.

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