Will Australians Become Too Big To Fly?

Airlines may need to reconsider the size of their seats, with new research revealing Australians are gaining up to 3kgs every decade.

The study examining 20,000 adults conducted by the University of South Australia, Transport for NSW and Department of Transport and Planning Victoria said airlines need to address “significant problems” posed by weight gain.

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In Australia’s first anthropometry dataset produced by iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre, it’s predicted Australians are expected to increase in weight by 1.5 to 3.5kg per decade.

The study suggested if airlines aren’t accommodating to the increase, it could deter Australians from travelling by air and could see airlines run up fuel costs.

Managing director Ian Christensen said airlines currently based their data on aged data which didn’t reflect the current Australian population.

“[It can] cause significant problems for people in the Australian community who are at the high end of the spectrum in terms of either weight or height,” he said.

“It would be prudent for all transport authorities, public and private, to make sure that the vehicles that they’re adding to their fleet are designed to accommodate the community that actually exists and the people that actually exist, not some imagined average that is not accurately reflecting the current population,” he said.

The data has also supported planning for other modes of transport. Transport of NSW is planning on incorporating the findings into future planning for public buses and trains, it said.

“Our objective is to gain data specific to the Australian population so we can design public transport that caters specifically to our shapes and sizes,” senior human factors specialist Christina Kirsch told The West Australian.

“These designs directly impact passenger comfort, safety, accessibility, and overall user experience. By incorporating anthropometric data into the design process, we can ensure that work and transport systems are more efficient, safe, and comfortable to use by our staff and customers.”

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