Could rear-facing seats on planes be safer?

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Could rear-facing seats on planes be safer?


An aviation expert has suggested that rear-facing seats on flights could offer passengers better protection.

David Learmount, a former RAF pilot and flight instructor, told the Daily Telegraph that in the event of a plane crash, rear-facing seats would be safer.

"Lots of research has been done into it and the RAF has rear-facing seats on its transport aircraft because it is proven to be safer," he said.

But he added that the "costs would be prohibitive to airlines".

"During an impact, the passenger's centre of gravity would be higher and the seat would be taking more of the strain – therefore the seat itself, the fittings and the floor of the aircraft would need to be strengthened. That would increase the weight of the aircraft, which would increase fuel consumption."

David also said that introducing three-point seatbelts could save more lives, "but can you imagine an airline like Ryanair supporting it?" he added.

The budget airline famously cuts costs wherever it can and Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary even once suggested scrapping seatbelts altogether.

Meanwhile, Dr David King, a trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, told Time: "Clearly for the vertical deceleration [typical] of an airplane crash, the lap belt seems to be the most important restraint."

King adds: "I find it difficult to imagine that having additional restraint offers no benefit. The question I would ask is, 'Is the magnitude of that benefit justifiable by the expense and the other effects a shoulder belt would have on safety?' For example, he says that unbuckling a shoulder belt could add a second or more to a passenger's ability to evacuate the plane.

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