# Air New Zealand Conducts Passenger Weight Study

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Air New Zealand is asking passengers to voluntarily weigh in before boarding so it can better understand the load their planes are carrying. The company wants the data to better plan fuel loads and routing to make their operation more efficient and it won’t be making a public spectacle of those who take part. “We know stepping on the scales can be daunting. We want to reassure our customers there is no visible display anywhere,” airline spokesman Alastair James said. “By weighing in, you’ll be helping us fly safely and efficiently every time.”

Airlines now use standard weights for passengers for load calculations, adjusting them upward for winter, but those estimates are widely believed to be unrealistically low. People have gotten heavier and they’re carrying more stuff onto the plane thanks to increasing baggage fees. The airline wants to weigh 10,000 passengers between May 2 and July 2. The airline did a similar survey with domestic passengers in 2021.

Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

### Picture Of The Week, June 1, 2022

1. I recall standing on a scale at check-in for a flight on a C90 many years ago. There was a lady doing the math using a pencil…anybody remember those things?

2. May be a good idea to save seat assignment until after the pre-boarding weigh-in ritual. “You, you, and you… Sit in the section marked ‘CG'”

3. “… and they’re carrying more stuff onto the plane thanks to increasing baggage fees. ”

I would argue the opposite. Since carry-on bags must be relatively small, I see people traveling lighter. When I check a bag I bring MORE total weight onto the plane than when I bring just a carry-on. Back when checked bags were free you’d see people with 2-3 suitcases each.

As for the passengers gaining weight – I am guilty as charged.

• The key is “carrying”. The amount (and consequent overall weight) of carry on luggage has increased. Anything checked is weighed and so a known number. They’re trying to get more accurate on the true weight walking into the cabin. I think it’s great! In fact I think they’ve gone way too far in setting it up so no display of the weight is shown. That is your weight. Accept the reality and if it’s problematic for you, do something.

4. I assumed that Jetliners had sensors that measured the weight on each gear wheel and thus adjusted trim tabs for weight, balance and power for thrust

I remember Cape Air shifting passengers for weight and balance

• They do-Boeings since the 707 have had an optional CG/gross weight computer. It’s standard on the B747-400, though at our airline used in an advisory capacity. Works off of nosegear strut pressure and will show a pretty good approximation of what your weight/CG is.

Speaking of 707s, a pal years back was flying for a South Florida freight ‘outfit’ back in the day. The particular plane they had was an ex-Lufthansa converted pax bird, so it had a bevy of options including the CG sensor which was still functional.

After loading up with freight at La Paz, Bolivia which is over 13000′ MSL- even at sea level the 707 was not known for being very sprightly, so even the relatively short flight to MIA meant performance margins were razor-thin weight-wise- the crew noticed the CG computer was showing the sensed weight of the plane to be several thousand pounds above the planned amount.

The CA asked that the cargo be removed and re-weighed under the supervision of the flight engineer- the FE noticed that the scale weights were coming in much higher per pallet than the loader/shipper declared them to be. So, a few less pallets were loaded aboard and the plane proceeded to MIA.

The next time my pal flew the airplane the CG computer had been deactivated by company MX.

5. I recall lining up with my fellow passengers in the bright sunlight on some small Pacific island’s airport ramp to take my turn stepping on an ancient balance scale. And yes, some of the ladies weren’t too pleased at the public nature of this intimate ritual.

6. Some New Zealanders I have seen tip the 150 kg mark easily. Still fewer of them around than in many US shopping malls…

7. If you’ve ever had the good fortune to win the lottery and find yourself seated to the proverbial fat lady (usually carrying a handbag big enough to hold a mechanics entire tool kit) who takes up all her seat and a good percentage of yours as well you might think this idea is pretty good. One can mount an argument that the cost of the ticket should be commensurate with the space one takes and some certainly take more space than they pay for.

8. If you’ve ever had the good fortune to win the lottery and find yourself seated next to the proverbial fat lady (usually carrying a handbag big enough to hold a mechanics entire tool kit) who takes up all her seat and a good percentage of yours as well you might think this idea is pretty good. One can mount an argument that the cost of the ticket should be commensurate with the space one takes and some certainly take more space than they pay for.

9. Unfortunately the average airline passenger has no clue about the importance of weight and balance for an airplane. And often, the balance is the critical issue. After all, no one seems to care about either issue when riding on a train, bus or even the family car, so why should the airline be so nosy? By making the study voluntary, I question how accurate their findings will be, since most heavy individuals are more sensitive about their weight, so will probably skip the weigh-in. I would also be skeptical about whether data from a small country like New Zealand could be used for the US.

10. I’ve been out of the business 16 years now, but the exponential growth of the average girth these days would warrant a scale at the checkin counter and the price of the ticket is based on that reading. You’ll be charged an additional \$20 for the belt extender.