Congressman Cohen Questions Transportation Secretary Buttigieg about Airline Passenger Seat Safety

March 25, 2021
Press Release
Also raises issue of Byhalia Pipeline, Memphis high pedestrian fatality rate, truck safety

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, welcomed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg – “Secretary Pete” -- to his first committee hearing today and raised issues involving the Byhalia Connection Pipeline, the adequacy of Federal Aviation Administration passenger seat safety testing, Memphis’ high pedestrian fatality rate and truck safety.

Congressman Cohen noted that the Byhalia Connection Pipeline plan would take it through African American neighborhoods as the “path of least resistance” and over the Memphis Sand aquifer supplying water to Memphis. “The Byhalia Pipeline is a problem in our city,” Congressman Cohen said.

Congressman Cohen also noted that his bill, the Seat Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act included in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, required the agency to conduct long-delayed testing of airline passenger seat safety with airplane evacuation testing. He noted that the FAA’s 2019 tests likely failed to use a representative sample of the American flying public. Specifically, Congressman Cohen said he was suspicious about the delay in making public the test results and wondered if people over 60, under 18, traveling with children, with disabilities, with service animals or overweight were used as participants in the evacuation tests.

The Congressman asked the Secretary to commit to verifying in writing whether the FAA included any of these demographics in its study. Secretary Buttigieg assured the Congressman he would keep him abreast of its findings.

See the entire exchange here.

Congressman Cohen also urged Secretary Buttigieg to work with him on his Complete Streets Act addressing pedestrian safety and on the Stop Underrides Act to prevent serious truck-car underride accidents.