Airline pilots must spend a lot of time sitting in their seats. Are those seats really comfortable ?
Question asked by Paula.
Airline pilots, particularly those on long haul flights that span continents and cross oceans, spend hours at a time sitting in their seats. Pilots’ seats on some airplanes are more comfortable than on others, but in general they are as comfortable as a pilot makes them to be.
The seats do have comfortable bottom and back cushions, but every person’s body is different. Therefore, pilot seats have many different adjustments on them. Seat height can be adjusted, fore and aft position, seatback recline angle, lumbar height and fore and aft position, thigh support, headrest height and angles, arm rest height can also be adjusted. So you can kind of taylor the seat to your own body to make it as comfortable as possible. Most pilots do this when they first get into the flight deck and sit down. For optimum visibility, pilots’ eyes must also be in a specific position relative to the windshield, glare shield and instruments and displays in front of them. Position of the rudder and brake pedals is also adjustable for maximum comfort and to accommodate pilots of different sizes.
Airbus airplanes use a sidestick for airplane control, which is a device similar to a video game joystick. It is located beside the seat, not in front of it, thus the name sidestick. Seats on those airplanes have a special armrest for Captain’s left arm (left seat) and First Officer’s right arm (right seat), which is the arm operating the sidestick. These armrests are wide, for comfort. In addition they have height and lateral and longitudinal angle adjustments, so the pilot can comfortably and precisely move the sidestick with his or her hand.
Pilot seats are equipped with a five point safety harness. There are left and right halfs of the lap belt, crotch belt and left and right shoulder belts. All these parts are joined by one quick release buckle that a pilot can release with one hand, should a fast emergency evacuation be required. The lap and shoulder belts will hold the pilot in the seat even in upside down position. Pilots have all the belts fastened tight for take off and landing, anytime the airplane is below 10,000 feet altitude and in moderate to heavy turbulence. At other times the lap belts are always fastened at a comfortable tension.
A bit more about Captain Dan:
Captain Dan Baz enrolled in Flight School at the age of 16.
He has completed studies in Aircraft Engineering and Master of Business Administration. He has been at the controls of many different types of aircraft, from single engine Cessnas to large intercontinental jets on global routes.
Over the last four decades he has flown thousands of hours up in the blue sky.
Have a question for the Captain ? Send it to Captain Dan Baz email@example.com Every week a question from the readers will be selected and answer posted in this column.