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Why Airline Seats Are In Upright Position During Takeoff And Landing? An Engineer Answers

Plane takeoffs and landings can get downright scary, with all the bumps and jolts shaking your soul and instigating you to repent for your sins before it’s too late. Naturally, flight attendants require everyone to be aware of their surroundings during a plane takeoff or landing, and besides keeping seated and fastening the seat belts, they also require us to put the seat back into its rigid, and straight-up position. Today we are going to dwell on why do we have to place our airline seats upright during these precarious moments.

The main reason behind enforcing this inconvenience is because airplane seats are the key protection feature for passengers in case of a crash. The upright position is their locked position, which keeps them sturdy and fixed in one place instead of the safety hazard that a reclined seat’s whiplash movement poses.

Plane seats are made to withstand impacts 16 times the force of gravity in the case of a crash, which makes a plane crash in this day and age far more survivable than they used to be earlier. The seat is only thing between you and utter chaos upon impact, so you want to remain seated in its sturdiest position. Upright seats also ensures that you can get into a proper brace position during a crash, which is three times safer than any other position according to FAA.

Image Credits: BBC

Putting seats in the upright position is also part of making plane evacuations easier for the window and middle-seat passengers in case of an emergency. New plane models are required to clear mock emergency evacuation test by taking all passengers out of the plane in 90 seconds or less, which is a lot harder if the seats in front of you are reclined and blocking the path. Although the increasingly cramped legroom (the distance between a seat and the one behind it) is a matter of concern for the 90-second requirement, it only makes upright seat position even more important.

Keeping seats upright also makes the plane windows in the visible zone, so the passengers can easily peek out of the window in case of a crash to assess a fire or other hazards outside. So while you mumble at the discomfort, these few inches could literally save your life!

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