For more than 20 years the National Transportation Safety Board has called for children under two years old to be safely restrained on board. Avelo appears to be the first US commercial airline making an effort to implement that recommendation.
Children as projectiles in severe turbulence events and unusual attitudes has been, and remains, an issue with airlines and there are events we can point to where an unrestrained child was injured onboard an aircraft.– Avelo’s filing with the FAA
When Avelo launched operations in April 2021 the carrier implemented “no lap child” standard, rooted in the philosophy of keeping all passengers safe on board. Eventually, mostly owing to customer frustrations, the company reverted that policy to the industry norm of allowing infants to be held by a parent during flight.
The carrier is petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to use a novel child restraint solution on board. If approved, Avelo would add the Baby B’Air Flight Vest to its fleet, allowing an adult to secure the infant through all phases of flight.
The Baby B’Air Flight Vest is designed to be easily fitted on an infant and then looped on to the seatbelt of an adult. While its use is currently permitted during cruise, it is not allowed during the critical taxi, take-off, and landing phases of flight. Indeed, no safety harness solutions are permitted by the FAA during those times. And those are the times where risk of injury is highest.
Transitioning an infant to and from the Baby B’Air Flight Vest harness also creates risk, as it would require the adult to release their seatbelt during or proximate to those critical flight phases. Inducing such compliance issues is, in itself, a different safety challenge. Hence the Avelo appeal to permit use throughout the flight.
The primary FAA reason to prohibit such securing of an infant is to avoid crushing the child in a crash. The Baby B’Air Flight Vest minimizes this risk by attaching to the seat belt rather than to the adult directly.
The issue around traditional devices on the market (e.g. baby papoose types) has always been a crushing event with an infant tethered to a caregiver in a rapid forward deceleration and vertical acceleration event. Again, this is solved with Baby B’Air since the device is attached to the seatbelt and not directly the caregiver, which puts the infant in the exact same position with the same mobility as if they were untethered on a lap.– Avelo’s FAA filing
The companies submitted analysis from multiple parties highlighting the testing of the Flight Vest and its success in reducing such risks.
Moreover, by specifying the restraint solution, the airline can (and will) ensure staff training and familiarity. This would further improve compliance and safety for all travelers on board.
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