...so if we ditch in the Tasman who opens the window seats? I know there are FAA regs worldwide that able-bodied peeps only must sit they as they are an emergency exit...
Just a point, FAA regs only apply to aircraft flying in US territory. I guess that NZ CAA and CASA regs would apply to Tasman flights. With perhaps some kind of ICAO input?
True - and I probably knew that if I had thought about it, interestingly from the NZ CAA website:
Seats by Emergency Exits
Some passengers may not be permitted to sit in a seat row next to an emergency exit. This is to ensure that if the emergency exit is needed, the exit can be opened and the aircraft evacuated as quickly as possible.
The following passengers are among those who should not be allocated, or directed to, seats by emergency exits:
- passengers with physical or mental impairment or disability to the extent that they would have difficulty in moving quickly if asked to do so;
- passengers who have significant sight or hearing impairment to the extent that it might be difficult for them to respond to instructions quickly;
- passengers who, because of age, sickness or ill health, have difficulty in moving quickly and or have difficulty in responding to instructions;
- passengers who, because of physical size, have difficulty in moving quickly;
- children (whether accompanied or not) and infants;
- passengers travelling with assistance dogs."
Hard to equate this section of the rules (which aim to "This is to ensure that if the emergency exit is needed, the exit can be opened and the aircraft evacuated as quickly as possible."), with an airline policy to charge extra for those seats and if necessary have no-one sitting in them...
The aircraft itself is certified by the FAA and/or EASA for evacuations. If you are interested you can search for "Emergency Evacuation Test" on Youtube.
Overlaying that is an Airlines Operating Certificate (AOC) and their Exposition (how they will operate within the rules). The aviation rules are laid down by each country. Virgin operate on an Australian AOC so the CASA rules apply. The New Zealand CAA rules you quote above don't apply to Virgin (although without looking are probably the same).
The rules around the overwing exits focus on the ability for anyone to open these exits easily in an emergency. The 737-800 exit is pretty cool as it is hinged and pops up out of the way so that the passengers don't have to lift the exit out of the way.
If you are really keen on further reading there is some good information from the FAA on their safety review they completed of emergency exits in 2000 here:
I'll have a look - thanks! :-)