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GLIDER 90
9th Mar 2018, 09:23
Morning All

With having flown a lot in my time, often wondered why the civil airliners do not have rear facing aircraft passenger seats as does the military. It has being proved that flying in rear facing seats prevents life threatening injuries, even the RAF VC10 had rear facing seats.

Regards

Glider 90

vctenderness
9th Mar 2018, 09:35
BA Club World has rear facing seats.

Back in the day the Trident had them as well.

I think it is all about perception by the customer. Facing backwards on a moving vehicle is not perceived as ‘normal’. I tend not to chose re facing seats on trains for instance.

Fareastdriver
9th Mar 2018, 09:38
When you accelerate in a car you are pushed back into your seat; the other way around for braking. This is what the passengers are used to so the converse feels foreign and unpleasant.

ImageGear
9th Mar 2018, 09:44
Who does not want to see where they are going?

IG

VP959
9th Mar 2018, 09:52
When you accelerate in a car you are pushed back into your seat; the other way around for braking. This is what the passengers are used to so the converse feels foreign and unpleasant.


It does indeed feel unpleasant during take off and landing, a time when a fair few passengers will be naturally a bit anxious, anyway.

Like others here, I suspect, I flown a good few tens of thousands of miles in VC10's, facing backwards. I my case I never really got used to the weird feeling during take off, and landing, even after years of experiencing it.

I'm sure that it's primarily down to the fact that any airline that adopted this practice would probably lose custom to other airlines, so unless is was mandated for all airlines it is probably never going to happen.

It also only mitigates an extremely improbable risk, which is another good reason not to do it.

ian16th
9th Mar 2018, 09:55
BA Viscounts, c1973-6, had 1 row of rear facing seats.

This also created extra leg room and they were my chosen row.

treadigraph
9th Mar 2018, 09:57
Flew on a rear facing club seat on a Southwest 737 quite few years ago. Seemed fine to me even during the initial fairly steep climb.

Checkboard
9th Mar 2018, 10:27
Makes it hard to pilot the aircraft, too.

treadigraph
9th Mar 2018, 10:40
Makes it hard to pilot the aircraft, too.

However hard can it be? People row boats ok backwards! :-)

PDR1
9th Mar 2018, 10:58
However hard can it be? People row boats ok backwards! :-)

True, but those who do the most rowing are university undergrads - that's a different basic intellectual minimum...

[sorry - just teasing, couldn't resist the chance!]

I think the bottom line is simply that passengers just don't like it. It's unpleasant during take off and really unpleasant during the initial climb.

PDR

Hokulea
9th Mar 2018, 10:59
It has being proved that flying in rear facing seats prevents life threatening injuries [...]
Anyone know if this is a truthful claim?

Tankertrashnav
9th Mar 2018, 11:07
I think the bottom line is simply that passengers just don't like it. It's unpleasant during take off and really unpleasant during the initial climb.

I spent 12 years in the RAF flying backwards - either as rear crew on Victor tankers, or as passenger in various transport types such Britannia, VC10 etc. When I first started flying in civil aircraft it felt distinctly odd facing forwards.

Anyone know if this is a truthful claim?

For obvious reasons many aircraft crashes are unsurviveable no matter where or how you sit, but one good example where rear facing seats would have almost certainly saved lives was the Boeing 737 which struck the ground on approach to East Midlands at Kegworth on the M1 in 1989. I am pretty sure that many of the 47 who died would have had a better chance of survival had they been facing aft on impact. Being forced backwards into a padded seat is always going to be preferable to being thrown forward into the seat in front, restrained only by a seat belt around the waist.

KelvinD
9th Mar 2018, 11:49
Maybe my memory is playing up but I am sure my trip on the ill fated Britannia XL638 was facing forward the whole trip from Aden to Lyneham. It was not a bog standard aircraft, with a huge portion of the interior being given over to stretchers and we occupied a handful of rows at the front.
Forwards or backwards, what can beat facing inwards as in an RAF Argosy from Aden to Nairobi, to Blantyre to Francistown? Horrible! Especially as the "seats" didn't actually exist; a pair of parallel poles with some webbing in between!
Same goes for a DC3 trip from Caticlan to Manila, except this one had real seats!

ian16th
9th Mar 2018, 11:52
Anyone know if this is a truthful claim?
Yes, there was a RAF Hastings crashed in Libya, at either Idres or El Adem, where all of the rear facing pax got out, the only casualties were forward facing crew.

I'll do some Giggling.

Edited to add https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19501220-0

B2N2
9th Mar 2018, 12:22
Anyone know if this is a truthful claim?

Yes it is.
The seatbelt in its current state is pretty much just there to keep your remains from going allover the place.
Itís even less effective then a car seatbelt which has the shoulder strap.
Pilots have 5 point harness with inertia reels.
Youíre going face first into a reinforced structure. The back of the seat in front of you.
Severe neck injuries during deceleration, facial trauma you name it.
No consider being pushed into your seat instead of forces trying to eject you out.
Your head and neck are forced into a restraint.
Years ago I read on a similar discussion that it was mainly cost and weight savings to have the seats facing forward.

https://youtu.be/9GvV0axRXnc

NutLoose
9th Mar 2018, 12:23
Flown lots in the VC10, yes a strange sensation in the climb as you feel you are being pushed out of your seat, but safer in the long run as it reduces whiplash etc in a crash. If it was good enough for Captain Scarlett in his SPV, it was good enough for me..

That said, sitting at the rear on a fwd facing seat allows you to watch everyone else die first.

paulc
9th Mar 2018, 12:27
Some business class seats are rearward facing as I found out when I got a very nice upgrade on sand pit A380 operator (not EK)

treadigraph
9th Mar 2018, 12:44
The problem with club style train seats is if you are facing rearwards, the last thing you'll see in an accident is the person opposite hustling forward across the table to give you a Glasgae kiss...

Mr Mac
9th Mar 2018, 12:49
Flown in Comets facing backwards - Dan Air and Air Tours early 70,s and also Britannia with British Eagle late 60,s. Last time was in Club with BA upstairs on 747 400 approximately 10 years ago on Delhi - LHR , not face backwards since.
Think it maybe safer but punters do not like it hence airlines do not offer it very often. Did not make much difference to me. The one layout I do not like is the "Herringbone layout" you get on some carriers - Virgin for one comes to mind on some of their A/C.

Regards
Mr Mac

goudie
9th Mar 2018, 12:51
Did all my early SLF flying in Britannia’s, VC10,s and Hastings. All rear facing seats and never thought anything of it, not knowing anything different. Have just flown back from the USA and would still prefer rear facing to forward facing, as I do on trains.

oldpax
9th Mar 2018, 12:58
Flew in a Caravelle once and my seat row was facing forward but the row in front was facing to the rear !!May have been overwing rows?

Highway1
9th Mar 2018, 13:02
I'm sure that it's primarily down to the fact that any airline that adopted this practice would probably lose custom to other airlines, so unless is was mandated for all airlines it is probably never going to happen.


Would they lose business though?. In the airlines like BA that already have rear facing seats are those considered more undesirable - be interesting to here from someone in booking whever it is an issue or not.

Pontius Navigator
9th Mar 2018, 13:16
I am not sure but I think the structure of a rear facing seat has to be stronger and hence heavier hence more expensive.

pattern_is_full
9th Mar 2018, 13:49
What percent of commercial aviation deaths/injuries fall into the narrow window between crashes that are not survivable at all (recent: An-148 near Moscow; Iranian ATR) regardless of seat orientation, and accidents in which no one is injured/killed at all, regardless of seat orientation (738 that fell down a cliff in Turkey, no injuries reported)?

There are certainly some accidents at low enough energies that they might have helped - Fond-du-Lac ATR mush on takeoff, Asiana cartwheel at SFO. But you'd have to analyse each individual injury to make sure they were not due to some other factor (flying cabin detritus, ejection from the airframe, side and vertical forces).

The most common cause of injuries in commercial aviation is probably vertical forces (or flying objects) in turbulence, for which rear-facing seats offer no benefit (you can hit the overhead or get clobbered by a drinks cart or luggage just as easily facing one way as the other). Injuries during evacuations are fairly common, also.

https://www.cnn.com/2017/05/01/europe/aeroflot-severe-turbulence/index.html

In a lab (or in an Apollo capsule), I'm sure it is easy to show that rear-facing seats reduce injuries from a deceleration of "x" Gs. But the real analysis that must be done would be - out of the injuries/deaths actually produced in the past, say, 10 years of commercial aviation, what percentage would have been prevented by rear-facing seats?

My suspicion is that that number would be on the order of 1 in 10000 (but someone can hunt down the data and do the statistical study for better numbers, if they want).

And is that worth discomfiting some larger portion of the flying public (let us say 50%, until someone studies that in detail)?
________

As an aside, just a couple of weeks ago I was flying pax in a CRJ, and noticed the CA seated on her backward-facing jump-seat during TO and climb. She was really straining to stay upright against the acceleration. I asked her how it felt when she came by with the drinks later, and she gave a wry grin and said - "Well, it's - interesting. I've almost gotten used to it."

And she flies that way every day.

Trossie
9th Mar 2018, 14:26
Get on a train and see which seats are chosen first: usually the forward-facing seats. That's what the passengers want.

Then look at things in an airliner: take-off and the initial climb are far less comfortable for rearward-facing seats (unless you are in one of those cushy business class seats that actually lie back quite a bit); I have sat in those cabin-crew seats a few times and they are particularly 'not fun' during those stages of the flight.

Rearward-facing seats would need to be a lot stronger and hence heavier than normal seats now in order to take up the force of a torso in a rapidly decelerating situation. In forward-facing seats this is taken up by the seat-belt mountings and is much lighter, with the 'brace' position taking care of the residual 'flailing' problems.

So, balancing passenger choices against extra costs (which also affect passenger choices!!) against the very, very, very tiny risks involved, just stick to the way we do things now.

ian16th
9th Mar 2018, 14:40
Get on a train and see which seats are chosen first: usually the forward-facing seats. That's what the passengers want.


Pax 'want' lots of leg room, but in general they aren't willing to pay for it.

DaveReidUK
9th Mar 2018, 14:44
What percent of commercial aviation deaths/injuries fall into the narrow window between crashes that are not survivable at all (recent: An-148 near Moscow; Iranian ATR) regardless of seat orientation, and accidents in which no one is injured/killed at all, regardless of seat orientation (738 that fell down a cliff in Turkey, no injuries reported)?

Between those two extremes, quite a lot, I would have thought.

Pontius Navigator
9th Mar 2018, 15:00
Like TTN, I always flew backwards. I don't recall any discomfort on departure but do remember how uncomfortable it was at circuit speeds and higher angles of attack.

In trains I always chose a rear facing seat.

old,not bold
9th Mar 2018, 16:20
While running an operation in the 1970s with F27s on charter to several major oil companies in the Gulf region, I got a costing for replacing all 44 forward-facing seats with 40 rear-facing seats in all the aircraft, which to me was a no-brainer, perhaps due to many RAFTC trips facing backwards in a previous existence (apart from a flight returning from Aden in a stripped-out RAFTC Britannia casevac aircraft, maybe the same one as previously mentioned, via Cyprus).

The seats were non-reclining since a hinge stressed to 9G would be immensely heavy.

The additional weight of the 40 9G seatbacks was compensated by losing 4 X 110 Kgs (don't forget the baggage) plus the 4 seat weights.

The charter cost would not change, ie we would absorb the purchase and installation costs.

The oil companies reacted in horror; their Head Office aviation experts and accountants ruled that the extra safety could not possibly justify the loss of the 4 seats. The fact that they rarely went more than 75% full was not considered.

The lesson was that in aviation, safety is rarely the driver in decisions with a financial impact, direct or indirect. That's why regulators are needed. Now, moving on to ETOPS..............

Argonautical
9th Mar 2018, 16:35
The Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle had rearward facing seats so it must have some merit!

MG23
9th Mar 2018, 16:54
The Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle had rearward facing seats so it must have some merit!

I'm sure one of the people who worked on the show once said they did that because it would be safer in a crash (and, from what I remember, Spectrum vehicles crashed quite a bit). But I'm sure it would have made driving a weird experience, since the motion you felt would be the opposite of what you expected when you steered or accelerated/braked.

MG23
9th Mar 2018, 16:58
In a lab (or in an Apollo capsule), I'm sure it is easy to show that rear-facing seats reduce injuries from a deceleration of "x" Gs.

Technically speaking, Apollo was forward-facing on the way up, and rear-facing on the way down, which is probably the ideal combination :).

Ancient Observer
9th Mar 2018, 17:51
It was proven, but age defeats my memory of the research. Someone somewhere should know/remember. Someone from the Belgrano on here?

Trossie
9th Mar 2018, 19:32
...

The lesson was that in aviation, safety is rarely the driver in decisions with a financial impact, direct or indirect. That's why regulators are needed. ...How many of your F27s ever experienced rapid-deceleration crashes?

How many airline passenger that flew during the past year have been in rapid-deceleration crashes where the difference between rearward-facing and forward-facing seats would have had any positive effect to the outcome of their actual safety?

How many millions and millions of airline passengers that flew during the past year did the direction that they were seated make absolutely no difference to the outcome of their actual safety?

When everyone wants to fly without spending more than the lowest that they possibly can, they don't want to pay for the cost of losing the equivalent of 4 seats on a regional turbo-prop for a safety benefit that is probably about as small as the risk of being hit by a meteorite. Regulators balance those risks and that is why seats are not mandated to be rearward-facing.

ShyTorque
9th Mar 2018, 19:41
That said, sitting at the rear on a fwd facing seat allows you to watch everyone else die first.

True, Nutty. I often get strange looks when stating that my only seat preference is the one furthest from the scene of the crash.

Mike6567
9th Mar 2018, 19:47
This is interesting.
A long time age we went on a family break to Rome in a Trident.
My son (age 7) had a rear facing seat and halfway through the flight was violently sick. He is now well into his 40s and still has problems with airsickness and I often wonder if the "Gripper" started this.

zed3
9th Mar 2018, 20:26
Flew Malev TU34 and City Hopper F28 with rear facing seats. The feeling of being pushed off the seat looking down the cabin was weird on take off but once in the cruise, no problem.

Fareastdriver
9th Mar 2018, 20:33
one furthest from the scene of the crash

Down at the back under the fin mounting points are the best. Look at how many crashes there are where just the rear fuselage and fin assembly are the only things left.

NutLoose
9th Mar 2018, 20:53
Or over the wing spar, nice and solid.

ShyTorque
9th Mar 2018, 20:57
Down at the back under the fin mounting points are the best. Look at how many crashes there are where just the rear fuselage and fin assembly are the only things left.

I ask for a seat in the black box...

NutLoose
9th Mar 2018, 21:01
Flew in a Caravelle once and my seat row was facing forward but the row in front was facing to the rear !!May have been overwing rows?

Well they did buy in the front end, the cockpit is from the Comet.

Pontius Navigator
9th Mar 2018, 21:01
FED, I still remember fondly a flight in a C97. We were supercargo and were in the tail. Beautifully appointed, bench sofas either side of a soecially shaped table. Quite disappointed when we were all asked to go to the flight deck to correct the CofG when they shut an engine down.

PDR1
9th Mar 2018, 21:06
deleted - just realised someone else had already said it

Apols!

PDR

Tankertrashnav
9th Mar 2018, 21:45
I must admit that I hadn't really considered the discomfort in the climb when I said I had done nearly all my RAF flying facing aft. The fact is in the back of a fully laden Victor K1 the only real indicator that you were climbing came from the slow rotation of the altimeter needle. None of us down the backs were hanging on our straps!

B2N2
9th Mar 2018, 22:17
The military chooses rear facing seats for one simply reason: economics are NOT involved.
Getting shot at and augering it in happens to transports also in times of war. Troops need to survive.
Hereís a question for ya:
If forward facing seats would result in 95 fatalities out of 100 and rear facing seats would be 90/100 what would you like? If rear facing seats even save 1 extra life wouldnít you like to be that person? Or a loved one? Going from paper charts to IPads saved Delta Airlines $5 million in the first year. Weight and therefore fuel savings.
And I always take rear facing seats in public transport, bus or train.
Itís just safer in a crash, plain and simple.

MG23
9th Mar 2018, 22:19
I prefer not to crash.

Loose rivets
10th Mar 2018, 15:33
My little pal was half my height when I was 8. He grew up, Joined the R A F and found himself in El Adam. So did I, in a British Eagle Viscount. We talked for the fist time in 60 years a while back and he told me when he was there. The radar bods had nothing to do when civil aircraft came in so he often got Batman's job. He may well have marshalled me in.

The soldiers had to face aft.

One day I hollered, what's that?! A thin line on the horizon. It got exponentially bigger by what seemed only seconds. I then learned just how quickly 72 chaps and their kit could board an aircraft.

A [email protected] turn after unstick got us away. Sand top, 3,000'. That aircraft would have been history.

old,not bold
10th Mar 2018, 16:55
Hi Trossie, I am of course very familiar with the argument that because the risk is very low we need not - should not, even - do anything to mitigate it. It is the accountant's approach, and I have been depressed by hearing people utter it as an article of faith at more boring meetings that you can imagine.

What has kept aviation safe over the decades is the approach which says that if we see a hazard we will deal with it, if possible remove it, without waiting for the accident/incident to show us that we really should not have ignored it just because there were no dead bodies to encourage us to deal with it. (Even so, there is a lot of truth in the saying that every Regulation is written in blood.)

Nowadays we have a name for doing that; it's called safety management. Now, if a risk assessment matrix shows that the probability of an accident in which rear-facing seats would save lives is low, the priority given to it is not high. But if it is a possibility, however low, and if mitigation is possible, there is no excuse whatsoever for not doing it.

End of impossible dream. But bear in mind that all the really great advances in aviation, and aviation safety, have happened because someone said "I don't accept that, let's find a better way" and then doing just that. In spite of, and ignoring, the chorus from all the usual suspects of "You're wasting your time", "'Twas ever thus", "The public won't ever accept it", and of course, "We can't afford it". How often have operators found they can afford something, after all, when a regulation enforces it, and Level 1 findings are looming?

It's worth pondering how many people killed at Kegworth might have survived in rear-facing seats. I don't know the answer; does anyone?

Thinking about Kegworth prompts the thought that the strength of seat mountings and fuselage/cabin structure is just as important. Has strength been sacrificed to lower construction costs and higher operating payloads? I don't know. But if so, I bet there was someone in the background muttering; "Don't worry, the risk of an accident where the outcome is adversely affected by a slightly weaker structure is so low we can ignore it".

RAF Britannias and VC10s were the bees' knees to travel in. Making them rear-facing wasn't just a whim. It was to improve crash surviveability.

Tankertrashnav
10th Mar 2018, 17:56
RAF Britannias and VC10s were the bees' knees to travel in. Making them rear-facing wasn't just a whim. It was to improve crash surviveability.


Indeed. I had done a fair number of passenger trips in both types before I ever flew in a civil aircraft. I didn't realise how comfortable they were until I started to experience the dubious delights of tourist class in various civil types. I even quite liked the inevitable ham salads in plastic trays!

D120A
10th Mar 2018, 20:38
The RAF mandated rearward-facing seats for passenger travel, to the extent that they insisted on it for chartered civil aircraft too, certainly in the 1970s-80s. A chartered aircraft with forward facing seats would have to have a formal dispensation from RAF Movements before it could be used. British Eagle Britannias used for Far East trooping had rear-facing seats.

Rearward-facing seats are demonstrably safer than forward-facing ones, for the dynamic reasons outlined above. The reason they were rejected by the airlines back in the 1960s was that they were heavier: with a rear-facing seat the bending moment at the seat-floor connection is bigger than with forward-facing, because the CG of the decelerating person is a greater distance from the floor. Thus the seat legs have to be beefier. Over a whole 707 or similar, this added extra weight equal to a couple of pax, and the airlines didn't like it.

It always amused me, when I was lucky enough to get a spare RAF Britannia or VC-10 indulgence seat to go on leave, to be denied travel insurance because I was not travelling by a recognised airline... Happy Days!

B78X
10th Mar 2018, 21:20
Makes it hard to pilot the aircraft, too.
Haha, actually made me laugh out loud with this comment!

Pom Pax
11th Mar 2018, 04:28
Once upon a time I could adopt the brace position without my head being near seat back of the row in front. However now with ever decreasing seat pitch to cram more of us in my forehead generally reaches the top of the seat in front of me. I am 6ft (184 cm).
I wish I could still fly backwards as I was brought up to.

goudie
11th Mar 2018, 10:24
Were the RAF Comets ever fitted with rear facing seats? I flew to the USA in a Mk 2 in ‘59 and I’m sure the seats were forward facing.

WilliumMate
11th Mar 2018, 10:59
Indeed. I had done a fair number of passenger trips in both types before I ever flew in a civil aircraft. I didn't realise how comfortable they were until I started to experience the dubious delights of tourist class in various civil types. I even quite liked the inevitable ham salads in plastic trays!

Back in the late 70s I was enjoying life in a cushy barrack stanchion job in Pompey when an oppo and myself got a pier head jump (three days notice) to join a ship in Sydney flying from Brize on a VC10. Flight was far from full, perhaps about half a dozen matelots and maybe 40 or so returning Aussie servicemen/women on indulgence tickets. Superb flight via Bahrain, Colombo and Perth. Enjoyed the novelty of rear facing seats too. Food was decent enough and fairly long stops en-route to sample the local beers. Couple of days to get there and six months to get back, steerage class.

izod tester
11th Mar 2018, 12:06
The 216 Sqn Comet 4Cs had rear facing seats for the trooper fit and aft of the VIP compartment in the VIP fit. The VIPs had both front and rear facing seats either side of a table. I joined 216 after the Mk2s had been retired, so I don't know their seating arrangements.

Tankertrashnav
11th Mar 2018, 12:43
One regret - I never managed a trip in a Comet. When I was at Kai Tak in 68 the Air Commander (C in C FEAF) came up in November in a Comet full of VSOs and their wives from Changi. No doubt there was some official excuse for the trip, but it was in effect a Christmas shopping jolly. I wonder what some Labour MP would have made of that one had they known!

Highway1
11th Mar 2018, 13:49
We used to do 'training flights' from Benson to Jersey to load up on duty free at Christmas in the Andovers of 115 Sqn. :ok:

artschool
11th Mar 2018, 14:57
I am not sure but I think the structure of a rear facing seat has to be stronger and hence heavier hence more expensive.

I once asked the same question to a aeronautical engineer and this is the answer he gave me.

WilliumMate
11th Mar 2018, 15:14
We used to do 'training flights' from Benson to Jersey to load up on duty free at Christmas in the Andovers of 115 Sqn. :ok:

It was commonplace when we were in the channel for the ships helicopter to land mail in France on the basis of one of the ships company on foreign soil - DF privileges for all.

;)

ian16th
11th Mar 2018, 15:29
We used to do 'training flights' from Benson to Jersey to load up on duty free at Christmas in the Andovers of 115 Sqn. :ok:
There was a training school at Manston, flying Valetta's, their end of course jolly was a weekend in Gib.

GLIDER 90
12th Mar 2018, 10:26
Thanks for the replies.

Regards

Glider 90

Ascend Charlie
12th Mar 2018, 21:59
Forward or backward still beats the snot out of travelling sideways on a canvas seat in a Herculoid.

30/30 Green Light
12th Mar 2018, 22:09
I grew rather attached to the one on the flight deck which normally faced the RHS, could rotate through 360 degrees and had a large panel with lots of switches and different coloured lights next to it ��

ian16th
12th Mar 2018, 23:15
Forward or backward still beats the snot out of travelling sideways on a canvas seat in a Herculoid.
Does today's RAF have any, none VIP, 'passenger' carrying a/c?

Tankertrashnav
13th Mar 2018, 00:58
Well Air Tanker have got a few Voyagers which they let us borrow if we ask them nicely!

Ascend Charlie
13th Mar 2018, 04:05
Does today's RAF have any, none VIP, 'passenger' carrying a/c?

Maybe they didn't realise that in 30 years time I WOULD be a VIP!

ExSp33db1rd
13th Mar 2018, 07:57
Makes it hard to pilot the aircraft, too.

Believe it or not, the BOAC 707 Pilots seats actually had a sign stitched to them that read ..

This seat must face forward for take-off and landing.

and .... they didn't swivell.

Obviously some jobsworth in 'elf and safety had made his mark.

ian16th
13th Mar 2018, 07:59
Maybe they didn't realise that in 30 years time I WOULD be a VIP!
Oh! I didn't realise you were THAT Charles!