Car seat-style restraints considered for planes
Sunday, October 12, 2003 Posted: 12:22 PM EDT (1622 GMT)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Regulators are considering a plan by JetBlue Airways Corp. to become the first U.S. airline to offer car seat-style restraints to enhance safety for young children during flights.
The Federal Aviation Administration sought industry input last week on the proposal to use a portable harness on JetBlue's fleet of Airbus A320s.
The low-cost carrier is working on the initiative with Arizona-based aircraft seat belt manufacturer Amsafe Inc.
The FAA has long resisted calls to require airlines to offer child restraints despite a recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board to do so. The agency promised in 1999 to propose a restraint regulation for all passengers, but there is no timetable for introducing it.
"It's economics over safety," said Jim Hall a former safety board chairman who has spoken out on transportation safety issues affecting children. "It's never made any sense."
Turbulence is the most common cause of injuries to passengers and crew but the risk of death or injury on a plane is considered small, studies show. The debate on whether restraints are necessary has centered on children under 2 years old who are permitted to sit on the lap of an adult.
Aviation regulations permit the use of auto child safety seats secured to aircraft seats by traditional lap belts. This includes rear-facing seats for infants. "We strongly recommend that parents use an approved child restraint system and that all passengers keep their seat belts fastened," an FAA spokesman said.
JetBlue and Amsafe have proposed a webbed harness to constrain a child weighing between 22 and 44 pounds, which in many cases would apply to children between the ages of 2 and 4. Lap belts would be used with the double-shouldered device to restrain the passenger around the torso. An adjustable strap would wrap around the seat to secure the device.
Regulators would require the restraints to function safely in a variety of flight scenarios, including turbulence, and be easy to latch and unlatch, especially in an emergency.
Fiona Morrisson, a spokeswoman for JetBlue, said the company has not yet decided how it would offer child restraints on its flights, if it is approved.
"This is a good way to make sure the child is sitting back, particularly during takeoff and landing," Morrisson said. "We'd like people to use car seats but a lot don't want to go through the trouble. It would be better for parents and for us if there were a better way to protect children."
But aviation experts also see passenger convenience as a key battleground for airlines trying to woo customers during the industry's worst-ever downturn.
thought this article was pretty interesting. if only people can only understand how much safer it is to put a child in a car seat rather than being a "lap-child". Any comments?