FAA tests new emergency evacuation standards

ABC News’ Stephanie Ramos visited the FAA’s Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City where officials are testing evacuations based on the size of seats and amount of leg room.
3:29 | 10/18/19

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Transcript for FAA tests new emergency evacuation standards
Back now with a special look at a new way to ensure airplanes are safe in an emergency. Airlines are shrinking and adding seats to planes making for cramped quarters and could be tough to evacuate. Our Stephanie Ramos went inside a simulator to test it out. She joins us from the airport. Good morning, Stephanie. Reporter: Good morning. Here are the questions the FAA is plagued with. They are looking at the factors and helping regulators determine the minimum seat measurements. Go, go go. Reporter: Chaos on board an American airlines flight. I can't go. Reporter: Passengers scrambling to make it out the emergency exit. Their plane catching fire in Chicago in 2016. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Reporter: Last March, these passengers screaming as their plane in Russia caught fire after it was reportedly struck by lightning and burst into a fireball while landing. At least 41 people were killed. It's incidents like these that the FAA is trying to prevent. We traveled to their aeronautical center in Oklahoma City to see for ourselves what they'll be testing. This is a mock aircraft showing what it would be like during an you can see the smoke filling up the cabin. This right here is actually a virtual window, a monitor, and you can hear the crew yelling this is what the FAA will be testing, just how long it takes passengers to exit the aircraft based on the size of seats and leg room. The high tech simulator projects realistic view of a fire outside the cabin and hydraulics to simulate a rough landing. The aircraft evacuation process has not been updated in more than ten years. We need to determine if there is a safety role associated with regulation of seat width. Reporter: The FAA is planning to test this year, a first of its kind study which was requested by congress. Lawmakers are concerned the current seat configurations are too small for average American travelers. Americans are getting bigger, and so seat sizes is important, but it has to be looked at in the context of safety. Reporter: According to the CDC, the average American man has gained almost ten pounds since 1999, weighing in at around 197 pounds in 2016. The average weight of an American woman has also increased by nearly seven pounds. Over that period, to 170 pounds. The FAA tests will be conducted over 12 days with more than 700 it will not account for travelers flying with small children, animals and passengers with disabilities. Now those results from the report will be released next summer, guys. What does the FAA say we should keep in mind about an aircraft emergency? Reporter: Well, they say if you are in a plane and there is an emergency and you're asked to evacuate, leave your personal belongings behind. That is a huge delay when folks try to grab their bags and take them with them. They say don't crawl on the ground. If you can, just walk out. Guys? Okay, Stephanie. Thanks very much. 197. I haven't seen that since high

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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