Improving Child Safety on Airplanes … One Seat at a Time

By Debbie Hersman

child in a carset in an airplaneProper child restraint use is one of the most basic and important factors in children surviving a crash, whether in a car or an airplane.

In 2010, the NTSB held a public forum devoted to child passenger safety. The primary purpose of the forum was to improve child safety in airplanes and in automobiles through education and advocacy aimed toward the caregivers of children and toward the transportation industry.

As a result of our accident investigations, the NTSB has recommended that all occupants, including and especially our youngest travelers, should have separate seats and appropriate restraints when they are on airplanes, whether it’s a small privately owned aircraft or the largest jet.

In small airplanes, just like in a car, the rear seat is the safest place for children to sit. Child safety seats can and should be used on small airplanes during every trip but, up until recently, the lower anchors and tethers (LATCH) systems that are present in cars manufactured since 2002 have not been available in small airplanes. LATCH systems improve child safety by including tethers to reduce head excursion and by making the child seats easier to install correctly. That is why I was pleased to learn that one manufacturer, Cirrus, has broken new ground by making LATCH systems available in the rear seats of its 2012 SR-Series models.

I am heartened to see companies raising the bar on occupant safety for children and making it possible for all occupants to have a safer way to travel.

3 thoughts on “Improving Child Safety on Airplanes … One Seat at a Time”

  1. This is good news, hats off to Cirrus. By including the LATCH system in their aircraft, owners with children are more likely to move the seats already in their car to their plane, using a restraint system they already know. Years from now, it will be the norm to see small children in car seats in aircraft–far removed from the days when my two sisters and I shared two lap belts across the back seat of a Cessna 172. Hats off to Chairman Hersman and the NTSB for driving this.

  2. Dear Sir,
    Has this requirement of child safety become Federal Law or promulgated by IATA or ICAO?

    Sd: Mayampurath.J.

    1. This was a voluntary action on the part of Cirrus. The NTSB applauds this proactive safety improvement, and encourage other manufacturers to consider similar actions.

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