A British company has developed a system of seat-based body sensors that measure passenger anxiety levels, and could signal aircraft cabin crew when they may face a case of the unruly behavior dubbed “air rage.”
“The thin-film sensors could aid cabin crew in monitoring passengers for things like anxiety or high stress or someone who has been motionless for some time,” said Mel Foster of QinetiQ Plc, the British government-owned company behind the sensors.
Airlines and governments are now taking a hard line on air rage, with courts jailing abusive passengers who imperil flight safety and force aircraft to land prematurely.
British rock band Oasis created havoc on a flight to Australia in 1998, abusing passengers and crew. The airline, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific, now refuses to carry the band.
QinetiQ said its proposed seat sensors could also help combat “economy class syndrome” — potentially fatal blood clots suffered by some passengers flying long distances.
Facing litigation, world airlines say there is no proven link between air travel and the potentially deadly condition, but some health experts believe a combination of cramped flying conditions and long hours in the air can cause blood clots.
Foster said the sensors cost tens of dollars each and could be ready in 12 to 18 months, although the big cost would be in integrating them into existing aircraft systems. Airlines spend $3.5 billion annually on refurbishing aircraft interiors.