At the recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) forum on child passenger restraints, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman delivered excellent opening remarks that captured the issues. Herewith, her observations on child passenger safety on airplanes:
“The Safety Board has issued 14 recommendations on child safety in aviation. Among them is a recommendation for the FAA to require restraint use for all occupants of airplanes, including infants and small children.
“While the FAA’s official guidance notes that a child younger than age 2 is safer in a restraint system than on an adult’s lap, this information, unfortunately, is only a suggestion and not a requirement.
“And yet, we see it regularly when we travel: parents putting their children in child seats on the drive to the airport, checking the car seat as luggage, and then holding the child on their lap during the flight, even when everyone else on the plane is buckled in. Once at their destination, that child is once again secured in the car seat for the ride from the airport.
“The laws of physics don’t change, whether you’re on an airplane or in an automobile. And we know that no parent would intentionally place their child in a less-safe position than they place themselves. If we are so careful to strap our children into car seats when we drive to the airport, then why are we not as diligent in securing them in a seat of their own on the aircraft? How many times have we seen the car seats on the baggage carousel?
“Our recommendations to the FAA regarding restraint use date back to the 1970s. However, our purpose today is not to engage in a statistical stalemate on diversion. Rather, we are here to inform and educate those who travel with children about the safest way to transport their most precious cargo. Children can’t make decisions themselves, so they are relying on adults to know what is best and do what is right.”
The NTSB produced a video of child safety and hazards on airliners to raise public consciousness about the need for proper child safety seats and an end to “lap children.” See the video below:
[flv:NTSB_FINAL_FULL.flv 320 214]