A topic that needs no second opinion is the FAA’s continued reluctance to do the right thing when it comes to flying with children under the age of 2.
Any airline will let you take your child under the age of 2 on the plane and hold them on your lap. That is irresponsible.
In the event of a hard takeoff or landing, the G-forces are so strong that you physically can’t maintain a grasp on your child. The result? Your child becomes a missile.
We’ve had incident after incident where we had survivable crashes where children were injured or killed because they didn’t have a child-restraint seat or weren’t properly strapped in. Why? Because the parents wanted to save money by not buying them a seat.
Any time there’s an accident, the National Transportation Safety Board does an investigation and makes recommendations based on its findings. This is a no-brainer. They’ve been making this recommendation for more than 20 years and the FAA has ignored it.
Get more advice on traveling with kids in the Family Travel section
The NTSB made an urgent recommendation that any child under the age of 2 should be secured in a hard-backed child-restraint system (CRS) in his or her own seat: Children under 20 pounds need a rear-facing seat; kids between 20 and 40 pounds need a front-facing seat; children over 40 pounds need an airplane seat belt.
Children 22 to 40 pounds can also be secured by a harness-style restraint system in their own seat.
So what did the FAA say?
They said, “Now we want to study it.” There’s nothing to study. The NTSB already did the research.
So the FAA studied it, and a year and a half later found the same information as the NTSB.
Now we get into something called “economic impact.” Every time the FAA is confronted with a choice of an obvious safety benefit and an economic impact, they choose the economic impact and defend the airlines. The FAA is still looking at the airlines as their customers instead of us, the citizens.
So what did the FAA do?
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They issued the following press statement: “[The FAA] will not mandate the use of child safety seats on airplanes because of the increased safety risk to families. The agency said its analysis showed that, if forced to purchase an extra airline ticket, families might choose to drive, a statistically more dangerous way to travel.”
They’re not known as the Federal Highway Administration. When I want the FAA to talk about highway safety, I’ll ask them. This is about aviation safety.
They’re basically in the pocket of the airlines and they should be ashamed of themselves. You can’t argue with the evidence, yet the FAA goes around it by saying they’re worried about highway safety. It makes no sense and it insults us as passengers.
You need to secure your child in an approved child-restraint system based on their weight. To determine whether your car seat is FAA approved, look for a sticker that says, “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” The harness-type Child Aviation Restraint System (CARES) will read, “FAA Approved in Accordance with 14CFR 21.305(d), Approved for Aircraft Use Only.”
- NTSB child safety recommendations [pdf]
- FAA child safety recommendations
- CARES harness child-restraint system
- Tips on safe flying with kids
By Peter Greenberg for PeterGreenberg.com.
Related Links on PeterGreenberg.com:
- Taking The Kids: How To Make Sure Mom Gets A Break On Vacation
- 10 Tips For Single Parents Traveling With Kids–And A New Significant Other
- Boating Safety Basics Update
- Peter’s Travel Detective Blog
- Travel Safety & Security
- Family Travel section