Human Factors Considerations in Aircraft Cabin Design
Lori Emenaker Kovarik R. Curtis Graeber Peter R. Mitchell The Boeing Company, Seattle, WA
"Why are airplane seats so uncomfortable?" Aircraft cabin designers, especially human factors specialists, hear this question all too frequently. The short answer is, of course, that comfort is relative. The long answer is a good example of how human factors considerations are applied to the design of the entire aircraft cabin.
Good seat design, as well as good aircraft cabin design, depends on the effective management of design requirements. These design requirements usually include a wide range of frequently competing aspects, only some of which involve human factors considerations. Aircraft manufacturing costs, operating economics, safety, available technology, producibility, regulations, and maintainability are just a few of the key considerations in the design process. Specialists in each of these fields are equally passionate about the importance of their particular requirements in the final design. It is the job of human factors specialists to serve as advocates for all users--from the passenger to the crew, the installation mechanics, and the aircraft cleaning and maintenance personnel--to ensure that all their needs are met.
As technology moves forward, airplanes can fly farther, faster, and higher and operate more efficiently than ever before. Throughout aviation history, these technological advances have consistently placed new and different demands on human physiology, ergonomics, and performance, thus providing a continual challenge for human factors engineers.
It all began when the first paying passenger boarded an airmail carrier for a cross- country flight. Because airmail carriers were already making money, any additional revenue they could generate from carrying passengers was pure profit. The earliest revenue passengers were seated with the pilot in open cockpits. The only human factors goals then were to keep passengers alive and unharmed. Passengers were given items,