Regionals Contest Costly Seat AD

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Regional airlines say the FAA is vastly understating the cost of a proposed AD that will require them to replace 10,482 passenger seats in various small airliners. The FAA said the AD will only cost the airlines a total of $900,000 because it is only tallying the labor cost of removing the Slim and Slimplus seats from their fleets ($85 each) and not including the cost of replacing them with new seats. “Calculating these numbers would make the part cost in the millions just for our fleet,” Daniel Burkhard, SkyWest's engineering manager for compliance, reportedly told the FAA when the fix was proposed. He said replacing the seats will cost between $250,000 and $500,000 for each of the 120 affected aircraft in its fleet.

The FAA says the seats, made by Zodiac Seats California LLC, pose a risk of neck or head injury in passengers in survivable crashes. The agency says videos studied by the FAA and Brazil’s civil aviation organization show that in a crash a passenger might slide down the seat with his or her chin on the seat ahead of them and hit the tray table. Airlines have disputed the findings but the FAA has stuck to its order. “The intent of this (airworthiness directive) is to provide a safe outcome for passengers during a survivable crash by preventing serious injuries,” USA Today reported the AD as saying. The seats are installed in Boeing 717-200s, MD-90-30s, Bombardier CRJ700s, CRJ900s and Q400s and Embraer E170s and E190s.

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