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US airlines may weigh passengers

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SINGAPORE, 20 May 2021: If travellers didn’t have enough worries on their mind when flying, US aviation authorities are considering a project that will randomly weigh passengers as they wait to check-in.

As reported by the UK’s independent newspaper, passengers could be asked to step on the scales in a move federal aviation authority update obesity figures that could be relevant to aircraft weight consideration for a safe take-off.

It’s a common practice for tiny commuter aircraft to routinely weigh passengers at the boarding gate under the scrutiny of the pilot, but for mainstream airline operations, a more complicated calculation takes into account passengers, crew, cargo, fuel and catering services.

Apparently, the FAA wants to update its passenger weight data to develop a more accurate average based on the increase in obesity in the US, blamed mostly on the massive intake of junk food.

According to a recent circular advisory from the Federal Aviation Administration, “airlines could be asked to start updating average airline passenger weight to account for increases in the average weight of American adults.”

“The weighing of passengers, according to the FAA, would set “standard average passenger weights” for crew members, baggage and passengers every 36 months”, a report in the AirInsight blog stated.

But the checks will be random and voluntary, with passengers able to refuse the request to step on the scales that will be placed near the check-in counter zone.

The FFA advisory of 9 May said passengers had the right to decline, and airlines should use their commonsense and randomly select another  passenger.

In the meantime, US airlines will calculate take-off weight based on the average male adult weight of 190 lbs (88 kg) during the summer timetable and 195 lbs (88.5 kg) in the winter, an increase of 20 and 25 Ibs on earlier measures.

Female passengers now weigh in at 179 lbs (81 kg) in the summer and 184 lbs (83.5) in the winter. Seasonal differences take into account the extra weight of clothing. The calculations fall flat in Asia.

Surveys conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation place the average passenger mass is 70 to 80 kg adopted by around 80% of airlines worldwide.  Average baggage weight spans 10 to 20 kg for short-haul domestic and international flights and  25 to 30 kg for long haul international flights.

IATA, in one of its surveys, concluded that for statistical purposes, an average mass of 100 kg for a passenger plus its checked baggage better reflects today’s actual values.

(Source: Independent with additional input)

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