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Rear facing passenger seats

Old 12th May 2009, 22:50
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Rear facing passenger seats

Would be interested in PPRuNe views on the safety improvement that would be achieved by installing all seats such that passengers face towards the back of the aircraft. This was a feature in RAF Transport Command in the fifties.
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Old 12th May 2009, 23:47
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(a) seats will end up heavier due to the back structure's carrying a significantly increased load. Floor structure probably likewise due to a higher body CG for reaction considerations.

(b) generally unpopular with the punters .. due to wanting any view to be where they are going, rather than where they have been, not to mention the claustrophobic tombstone seat backs/headrest requirements.

(c) you might like to look on the FAA site to see if CAMI has done any sled tests on rear facers to get an idea of any physiological differences ?

(d) "safety" is an arbitrary thing so what you wish to measure determines the results

(e) I suspect that the advantage of a rear facer is limited to reduced headstrike, and perhaps flailing, injuries
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Old 13th May 2009, 07:31
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This has been discussed many times before. I am sure a search will come up with some additional answers.

One point I recall is that passengers also dislike the sensation when climbing of leaning out of the seat. From a safety point of view there is also a greater risk of flying objects hitting someone in the face.
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Old 13th May 2009, 07:45
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In the early 1970s, I did travel often on BEA from LHR to BRU, on Tridents.
There were rear facing seats, often remaining empty.
Did not bother me (as I am a pilot) but regular passengers hated them.
Same thing on railroads.
I now often travel on the TGV Thalys, from Paris to Brussels.
Many seats are rear facing. They also remain empty.
I would not venture a commercial airline service with rear facing seats.
As deltayankee mentions, would you like to get hit on the face by objects in a crash...?
xxx

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Old 13th May 2009, 08:12
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1. What objects are going to hit you in the face?
2. Train pax dont like them because the country side is moving backwards. This is only an issue on take off or landing.
3. Not convinced as to why the seats have to be stronger facing the other way.
4. There are a number of rear facing seats in First and Business class areas. They seem to sell ok.
5. Rear facing seats on trains with tables in between seem to sell ok.
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Old 13th May 2009, 08:34
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This was a feature in RAF Transport Command in the fifties
Unless you count the RAF VC10 fleet which still is using these
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Old 13th May 2009, 08:48
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In a takeoff or landing accident, due to possible fuselage structural failures, overhead stowage carry-on items are likely to be items that could hit you on the face. I could accept rear facing seating, again, being a pilot, does not bother me, but try to convince passengers about it.
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Old 13th May 2009, 09:14
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What objects are going to hit you in the face?
Lots of little loose things in the cabin that people will not "stow" even if instructed -- iPods, Blackberries, books, toys, CD players, pens, glasses, shoes, bottles of water, hefty fashion magazines... Plus, of course, all the stuff that falls out of the lockers on the first bounce.

They may seem small and harmless but wait till one hits you in the eye at 100kts+
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Old 13th May 2009, 11:30
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What about items 2,3,4,5?

Overhead lockers collapse downwards so are not relevant.

Small objects could be a lesser problem if you put your hands over your face.
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Old 14th May 2009, 00:53
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3. Not convinced as to why the seats have to be stronger facing the other way.

No certification requirement, per se, for additional crash load strength. The consideration arises when one looks at the certification test requirements.

(a) for the older static seat (9g structure with 12g attachment overload - or, if you go back further, 6g static seats) the tests were done with a simple pelvic block which really didn't apply much load to the seat back at all. I was always uncomfortable signing off Type Certification design data for such seats in a previous life for just this reason. On some occasions, the customer (especially military) would require an articulated body block and, for those instances, the situation was more in accord with (b).

(b) however, for the later dynamic requirements, and due to body articulation under crash loads, the end result is that the rear facer has a higher body CG line and, consequently, higher seat-floor attachment reaction loads than seen by the forward facer, ergo, it ends up needing a higher structural capability
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Old 14th May 2009, 03:25
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Dp the BA 747's still have the alternate facing business class seats (that basically became a reclining bed) in the upper deck? They did in the early 2000's - remember flying out of Philly a week after the Sept 11 attakcs on such an equipped BA 747.

Didn't notice any real difference on take-off or landing - and the rest of the flight I was asleep.
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Old 14th May 2009, 22:16
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4Greens - look down at the bottom of the page? Someone there even wondered why pilots face forwards.........................

Last edited by BOAC; 15th May 2009 at 07:25.
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Old 15th May 2009, 00:32
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Still not convinced about the extra strength of seats required. There are rear facing cabin crew seats in most aircraft. Those near over wing exits on 744 and 747 are not apparently strengthened in any way.
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Old 15th May 2009, 01:23
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Still not convinced about the extra strength of seats required

The secret seating business is in the data plate glyphs hidden somewhere on the seat.

(a) if a seat is certificated (and the data plate so reflects) for forward facing only, then it may not be installed, as is, aft facing. No reason why you can't modify and re-certify the seat to be an aft facer but that generally requires some structural modification to carry the loads, as well as a head rest extension to meet a certification design requirement for back/head support.

(b) if a seat is certificated for both forward and aft, then it can be configured either way, generally with only a requirement to have a tall headrest fitted for installation as an aft facer (unless the basic seat back is tall enough for a tick in the box).

I can't speak to your specific seat examples but the above is the way it is, I'm afraid. Typically F/A seats are incorporated into the aircraft structure so they are a bit different to freestanding pax seats.

Specifically, what bits are you unconvinced about and maybe we can address them rather than going around in circles ?
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Old 15th May 2009, 08:26
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Lets try it this way. If an aircraft interior was designed for aft facing seats only, what sort of extra expense in strengthening would this entail? I have always assumed that if aft facing seats were seen as safer then this would only apply to new types.
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Old 15th May 2009, 17:34
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Seats will be heavier, payload reduced, floor possibly strengthened too. Impossible to quantify the cost.
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Old 16th May 2009, 00:09
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The cost would have to be balanced against the safey improvement in a crash landing scenario. Casualties have a heavy cost as well.
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Old 16th May 2009, 07:20
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I hope you will pardon me for jumping into a discussion I have no expertise whatsoever to contribute, but having read the thread I think the original question:

Would be interested in PPRuNe views on the safety improvement that would be achieved
has been largely answered here:

I suspect that the advantage of a rear facer is limited to reduced headstrike, and perhaps flailing, injuries
To summarise the rest of the answers: limited safety improvement, other risks introduced which have not been thoroughly investigated, additional direct and indirect costs associated.

I hope I got the above right?

I have heard people say in the past that rear-facing is safer, but I have never seen the body of research (which probably exists) confirming and quantifying that assertion.
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Old 16th May 2009, 22:32
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LH2 - Nor have I, hence the original question.
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Old 17th May 2009, 07:37
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From June 08

Quote:
Originally Posted by javafox
I have not come across any research on the safety of rear-facing seats vs. forward facing seats whilst conducting my own research, but if I do, I will certainly post here.

RAF 1945
USAF 1958
FAA 1988
Japan Civil Aeronautics Board 1994

No links.

Common fatalities/fatal injuries for forward facing (assuming seats do not concertina together in the crash) are caused by severe internal injuries from lap belts and sometimes severance of torsos by the belts (all finished brekkie?). Cured by 3-point harnesses.
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