SAWE working to produce Recommended Practices for Airline Passenger and Bag Weights

SAWE is partnering with the Society of Aircraft Performance and Operations Engineers (SAPOE) to generate a recommended practices (RP) document that will produce standards for the development of standard average weights to be used in passenger carrier operations.
The FAA has recently released Advisory Circular 120-27F Weight and Balance Control. Revision F deviates most significantly from previous versions of AC120-27 in that standard weights for passengers and bags are no longer specified. The AC provides guidance to the operators stating that passenger and bag weights should be calculated based on (1) use of Center for Disease Control National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (for body weights) and (2) use of surveys (for body weights where NHANES data are not appropriate and for all bag weights).
The reluctance of the FAA to publish results in AC 120-27 allows for a possibility for inconsistent application of statistical methods. The major problem with the AC is that it will lead to varying and inconsistent practices and assumptions among different carriers, as a result of the desire to have each operator responsible for development of its own standard weights. Analysis of the CDC NHANES data for body weights and design, execution and analysis of bag surveys are highly technical tasks requiring personnel with specific skill sets. Variability due to inappropriate application of methods and even due to pursuing an opportunity to obtain a competitive advantage will result in nonsensical standard weights. For example, the same passenger and their bags will be assumed to have different weights on each airline they fly.
To address these concerns, SAPOE created a “Tiger Team” in January 2017. The Tiger Team’s primary focus is to develop standards to be used in (1) analysis of CDC NHANES body weights, and (2) construction of checked and carry-on baggage surveys. Engineers from Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Allegiant, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, American Airlines, NetJets, American Aeronautics, Boeing and Airbus have been involved as Tiger Team members. The Tiger Team has been meeting regularly with the following planned activity:
• Publication of an industry standard weight for passengers and bags
• Development of the industry standard weights to be accomplished using agreed-upon methods
• CDC NHANES data analysis will be published for body weights (unclothed) – a fresh NHANES survey is due to be published this fall
• Carry-on and checked bag weights will be surveyed by participating operators.
• Data will be shared and SAPOE members will have access to results
• Standard average weights and best practices documentation (user guidance) will be published by SAPOE (format to be determined)
• Work with FAA to revise weight & balance program Op Specs (A096/A097/A098/A099) to accommodate the necessary changes
• Work with SAWE to create a Recommended Practices standards document
If you are interested in working on this project – data collecting, data analysis or development of the RP, please contact Mike Byham at michael.byham@aa.com.

Author: clintds01

SAWE member since 2003.

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