Child Airplane Seat Restraint

Parents that place their child in a car are aware of the use of car restraint seats designed for safety. Adults or parents traveling with small children on a plane should be familiar with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules regarding child restraints or child restraint seats. When a child properly restrained in airplane seat will help make it possible to survive a crash, but more commonly helps to protect the child from injuries caused by turbulence. The FAA recommends the use of child safety restraint seats for any child weighting less than forty pounds. Many airlines will offer child restraint seats, must be placed in a window seat, and not in an emergency exit row. Parents certainly have the option to bring their own airplane restraint child seat, that has an FAA approval certificate to save money, charge by the airline. Recommended to contact your airline to book adjacent seat ahead of time. According to Federal Aviation Regulations, airplane child restraint seat must have an FAA approval label. Those airplane child restraint seats manufactured between 1981 and February 1985, should have printed label reading: “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable Federal motor vehicle safely standards.” Airplane child restraint seat made after February 1985, should have a label with red lettering that reads: “This Restraint is Certified for Use in Motor Vehicles and Aircraft.” Without this certification labeling, would be not recognized for use in an aircraft. A child restraint seat generally, has a base less than sixteen inches wide, makes it fit in most airplane coach sections. Make certain that your child’s height or weight does not exceed the recommended limit for the airplane seat or traveling in an automobile.

According to the FAA, airline transportation rules for children less than two years old, those older, and prohibited type of child restraints onboard a commercial airplane. If a child is less than two years old, not required to secure the child in airplane child restraint seat, but placing the child on a lap of an adult (“lap child”) at least eighteen years old. Parents or adults should beware, upon severe turbulence it is unlikely the guardian would be able to hold onto their child, and likely the child would be tossed around passenger cabin and sustain a serious injury or be killed. Also, a child that weighs less then 20 pounds, being tossed in the air because of turbulence, may pose a hazard upon injuring another passenger. In some cases, upon sudden stop or air collision, the “lap child” being held, can be crushed to death by the parent on whose lap they are sitting. Also, a child that sits on the lap of an adult may want to get down and run around the passenger cabin, may pose a risk sustaining an injury, hazard to other passengers or a hazard to flight attendants performing their duties. The FAA prohibits the use of front pouch carrier or harness vest. Reasoning concerns the fact that airline seats are designed so that the force of the upper body of a lap belted passenger will collapse the seat in front of him/her, and the vest can interfere with the seat’s ability to function in way it was designed. According to regulations, booster seats are prohibited from use onboard an aircraft, because these seats do not pass the inversion test required by the FAA, and interfere with the airline seat’s design when it comes to safety performance. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended mandatory federal requirements for restrain use for children on aircraft.

In July 2006, The Federal Aviation Administration ruled allowing passengers to use FAA approved airplane – specific harness – type devices that attach to the aircraft seat. The FAA seeks child seat manufacturers to design new types of devices that adhere to the administration’s stringent standards. In September 2006, The Federal Aviation Administration approved the first harness type child safety device called CARES (“Child Aviation Restraint”) for use on commercial airline flights. The manufacturer AmSafe Aviation based in Phoenix, manufacturers safety and securement equipment for the Aerospace, Defense and Ground Transportation industries, including products for seat belts, restraints, airbags, and other safety devices. CARES is designed for children more than one year old, who weigh between 22 and 44 pounds, and sit in their own airplane seat (Not having to sit on a parent’s lap). The child aviation restraint has a belt and shoulder harness that goes around the adult seat back and attaches to the adult passenger lap belt. According to Louise Stoll (Former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Transportation during the Clinton Administration.) founder of the product, it provides upper torso restraint for young children, who lack the upper body strength to brace themselves during turbulence or other incidents. This device is not applicable for use in motor vehicles. During the past seven years the manufacturer had been working to develop this restraint. The device was patented in 1999, and finally received FAA certification. The advantages of CARES, weighs less than one pound and can fit in a parent’s pocket, compared to previous airplane car seats for children that weigh twenty pounds. The harness cost $74.95 and available online at According to AmSafe company spokesman, AmSafe is taking pre-orders and expects to begin shipping the devices on or about October the first. Also, American Airlines is considering selling the CARES device to customers.

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