Home » ASN News
Audit initiated of FAA’s oversight of aircraft evacuation procedures
20 June 2018

AA383 with evacuation slide deployed (NTSB)

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has initiated an audit of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight of aircraft evacuation procedures.

In October 2016, American Airlines had to evacuate an aircraft due to an engine fire. Citing this incident, and the possibility of further reductions in seat pitch and increases in numbers of seats in commercial airliners, the Ranking Member of the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Aviation have requested that the OIG examine FAA’s evacuation standards and whether passengers can safely evacuate aircraft in emergencies within the required 90 seconds given these changes in the airline industry and consumer behavior.

The current FAA’s evacuation standards have not been significantly updated since 1990.  However, significant changes in the industry and consumer behavior have occurred since 1990. For example, the number of aircraft seats and passengers have increased but seat size and distance between seats has decreased. Passengers’ reliance on carry-on luggage has also increased.

Accordingly, the OIG audit objectives will be to assess FAA’s (1) development and updating of aircraft emergency evacuation standards -including how changes in passenger behavior, passenger demographics, and seating capacity- affect the standards and (2) process for determining whether aircraft as currently configured meet evacuation standards.