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Child Seats on Airplanes

Child Seats on Airplanes: NTSB Chairwoman Seeks Implementation

As she exited her job as chairperson of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) last week after 10 years on the board, Deborah Hersman noted that failing to require young children be put into child-safety seats on planes was “one of her great disappointments.”

Hersman was making her farewell speech at the National Press Club on April 14, when she made the remarks, and to back it up, she recounted what happened with two infants who were aboard United Flight 232 when it crashed in Sioux City, Iowa in 1989. IN this situation, two sets of parents with very young children had been advised to brace for the massive impact. They were also instructed to hold their babies on the floor, cushioned with blankets. When the plane crashed onto the runway at 240 miles per hour, it cartwheeled and caught on fire. But when those parents prepared to evacuate, they couldn’t find their babies, because they, naturally, were unable to hang onto their children during the forceful impact. One baby was found and carried out by another passenger, while the other one could not be found and died in the fire.

On the other hand, she said, if both babies had been in child safety seats, they would never have been lost by the parents. While no one would guarantee any child’s safety in any plane crash, in crashes like the one in Iowa, no child would have been thrown around the plane. On that flight, 185 passengers were killed, while 111 survived. If the children had been in safety seats, it’s possible at least 112 might have survived.

During her speech, Hersman was joined by flight attendant Jan Brown, who has lobbied for 25 years to require child-safety seats on planes, although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has failed to adopt the requirement to date.

Hersman did acknowledge that transportation is, for the most part, very safe, and cited improved safety measures since the Iowa crash as the prime reason only three were killed in last July’s crash-landing of an Asiana Airlines flight in San Francisco. During her time as chairman of the NTSB, many changes have been made. In 2004, when she became chairperson, children weren’t even required to be belted into the seat at all times, in contrast to the laws in most states that required safety seats for all children in cars. She also pointed out that technology has prevented a great number of crashes, because pilots are now warned to avoid getting too close to other planes, or even to the ground.

The suggestion the outgoing chair makes is a good one. Child safety is just as important in the air as on the ground. If you or a loved one have been injured in any sort of aviation crash or other type of accident, call the Aviation Injury Attorney at Hill Law Firm for a free consultation.

Aviation Accidents, Personal Injury