CRS Fit on Aircraft

Principal Investigator: John Bolte, PhD, The Ohio State University


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) encourages the use of aircraft-approved CRS. However, as established through prior CChIPS research led by Aimee Palumbo, PhD, MPH, caregivers often encounter challenges installing CRS on aircraft seats. The broad objective of this study was to quantify the specific compatibility concerns between CRS and aircraft seats to ultimately facilitate higher rates of CRS use on aircraft.


Through a collaboration with the SAE Aircraft Seat Committee, we obtained the physical dimensions of nine different aircraft seats, which represented economy and premium seats on regional jets, narrow body aircraft, and wide body aircraft. From prior CChIPS studies, we had measurements from 56 CRS models and 111 vehicle seats. We compared the dimensions to see which CRS would fit into which aircraft seats and compared the aircraft seat dimensions to vehicle seat dimensions.


We found that the width of the aircraft seats and the pitch dimension, or the forward space between each row of seats, presented challenges with installing rear-facing CRS in aircraft seats. This was especially true for larger convertible or 3-in-1 CRS. We also found that aircraft seats are flatter and a little shorter in seat bottom length than vehicle seats. All the dimensions and measurements were provided to the CChIPS IAB members to use as benchmark data so aircraft seat and CRS manufacturers can better understand how their products work together.


We hope that by creating this comprehensive database of dimensions we can shed more light on how CRS designed to keep children safe in vehicles can also be used to keep children safe when traveling by air. We hope that these data, and the discussions and collaborations to follow, can help to move the needle in encouraging caregivers to use CRS when traveling on aircraft.

Recline Angle Chart
This image shows the distribution of seat back angles for forward-facing (FF) CRS (with respect to horizontal, black dots) compared to the seat back angles of aircraft seats (with respect to the seat pan, orange and blue lines). Most aircraft seats fall within +/- 1 standard deviation of the corresponding FF CRS angles.


Julie Mansfield, PhD, The Ohio State University

IAB Mentors

Emily Thomas, Consumer Reports; Joseph Pellettiere, Federal Aviation Administration; Mark LaPlante, Graco Children’s Products Inc.; Josh Gazaway, Graco Children’s Products Inc; Susan Mostofizadeh, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; Nick Rydberg, Minnesota HealthSolutions