By Debbie Hersman
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.