Decades-old safety standards mandate that airplanes seats be designed to accommodate an average passenger weight of 170 pounds — about 25 pounds lighter than the people who are actually sitting in them. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average weight of an American man is 194 pounds and average woman in 165. Yet, as The New York Times reports today, airplane seats have been remained essentially unchanged in size and strength for decades, leading some engineers to question whether they can actually protect a large passenger in the event of a crash. The airlines themselves already assume that people riding in their airplanes are much heavier than the 170 pound standard, at least when it comes to calculating the weight of a full craft. Yet, those heavier passengers haven't gotten any extra protection if something actually goes wrong. With no new designs or safety laws on the horizon, we suppose the solution is lose weight or start taking the train.

Photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr