The Associated Press reported last night that American Airlines is voluntarily limiting the number of passengers it allows to fly on some of its 767 airplanes. They are reducing the capacity from 236 to 228. They’re doing this in light of a review of life raft capacity on its fleet. No doubt, this comes as a result of US Airways flight 1549 water landing on the Hudson almost 2 weeks ago.
American flies the affected 767-300 primarily (which incidentally, still lists its capacity at 225 passengers) on Transatlantic and Latin American routes. Both routes take flights over water for a large part of the flight. The airline says that the problem arose when they increased the number of seats after redesigning the planes’ Business Class cabin. This happened between 2005 and 2007. This means the planes have been flying with not enough raft capacity for at least over a year, possibly up to 4.
On its defense, American states that the FAA requires planes to have one extra raft in case of failure. Also, they maintain that passengers were never at risk, as the planes are equipped with other flotation devices (like seat cushions).
The way I see it, it’s very possible that passengers were never at risk, and that there would have been enough space in the existing rafts for every passenger, assuming no raft failed. However, in my mind, American’s behavior has been negligent on the one aspect it must always remain vigilant: safety. How come noone thought about this when they redesigned the seating? What would have happened if fligth 1549 had been an American 767 landing on the Atlantic? Yes, passengers may have been forced to use their seat cushions instead of a raft. They may have been perfectly safe. But, would you have liked to be one of those passengers force the wait for rescue floating on the ocean instead of in a raft?
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Regards,Enrique Brener KC Travel N. Miami Beach, FL www.kctravel.jurni.net firstname.lastname@example.org 305-792-0618 FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171