The FAA yesterday announced that it would not mandate the use of child safety seats on airplanes because of the increased safety risk to families. The agency concluded that if families were forced to buy an extra airline ticket for a child under two years old, many would choose to drive instead. And that would lead to more child fatalities, since driving is more dangerous than flying.
The FAA did change its operating rules to allow for the use of alternative child restraint systems on board aircraft.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) immediately expressed "disappointment," since child restraints in airliners has been on its "Most Wanted" safety improvement list since 1999.
But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration backed the FAA, saying the decision was "good public policy that is in the best interest of safety for the traveling public." The FAA and NHTSA studies indicated a car-seat-in-airliners mandate could result in an additional 13 to 42 highway fatalities over 10 years.
Cost of the seat isn't an issue when flying general aviation. But as Dr. Ian Blair Fries pointed out in the July issue of AOPA Pilot, proper restraint of young ones is. He summarizes everything you should know about using car seats in aircraft and keeping your little ones safe. AOPA members can read the complete article.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Fries has treated patients injured in vehicular accidents. "As an orthopedic surgeon, I see too many injuries that could have been prevented by proper use of restraints." A former U.S. Air Force flight surgeon and frequent author and lecturer on aviation safety and medical issues, he's also co-chairman of the AOPA Board of Medical Advisors and a member of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Board of Visitors.
August 26, 2005