Letters to the Editor

Subject: Infant carriers
From: Deborah Spiegel FTNdebbi@aol.com

"The best advice I can give, for a child under 2, is to obtain the kind of device I have seen on both mothers and fathers in shopping centers. It looks something like a reverse back pack. The baby is installed in it and it is then worn on the front of the parent so that the baby is hugging the chest of the parent." Lap Children

Robert,

I just got home from our Thanksgiving trip. I had my 3-month-old son in his Baby Bjorn carrier. The US Airways flight attendant told me that I could not keep him in that for safety reasons and that I had to hold him on my lap. She even showed me a book that had that information.

I disagreed with her and kept him in the pack attached to me. God forbid there was an emergency, I wanted him to be connected to me. Just thought I'd let you know.

Deborah Spiegel

EDITOR'S REPLY:

This is an excellent letter because it illustrates the nanny-state mentality of some FAA bureaucrats. The reason they want you to hold the baby on your lap, without restraint, is because they are fearful that some parents will try to attach the infant pack to the seat belt instead of to the parent, or worse, to wrap the seat belt around both parent and infant -- which would lead to severe injury to the baby, in the event of rapid deceleration. Those of us with common sense find it hard to understand why the FAA regulation cannot simply require that the F/As check for those kinds of situations, without requiring the parent to remove the infant from a front pack carrier that is strapped to the parent (not to the seat belt).

My advice is to do just what you did: ignore their request and put your baby and common sense, ahead of the idiotic rules of the FAA.

But please, do so courteously. It isn't the Flight Attendants' fault. They are required to advise you of that irrational regulation.  [See also Toddlers and the  Rational Solution]      

December, 1998

Robert J. Boser    
Editor-in-Chief 
AirlineSafety.Com


Another reader, in France, offers additional information:

From: Thierry Botrel Thierry.Botrel@elf-p.fr

While flying on Air France, I asked the cabin crew about child-lap restraining devices. They showed me their operating manual.

If I understand what a "belly belt" is, it seems that French administration is making compulsory the use of a device, which was banned a few years ago by the FAA. If the "belly belt" is the same device in use on French airlines, why is it stamped "conform to FAA?". [The FAA on June 4, 1996 issued a rule to ban the use of booster seats as well as harness and vest-type child restraint systems aboard all U.S. air carriers. Previously, the use of supplemental lap restraints (belly belts) was banned from use in aircraft]. From: ( http://www.airsafe.com/kidsafe/chldseat.htm )

The child restraints were made compulsory on French passenger planes by DGAC [The French equivalent of the FAA] on March 25, 1998, during the take-off and landing phases and any time the seat belt sign is on.

On the airbus A 320 there are 15 devices called belt extensions. They are manufactured by a US company, AM-SAFE, from Phoenix Arizona and bear the following references: extension model 502758 conform to FAA ,TSO, 3000lbs rated. It consists of a small belt (almost identical to the safety demonstration belts used by cabin attendants during the pre-takeoff safety demonstration) with one loop strap sewn at the back.

The Air France cabin crew manual (DGAC approved) also allows the use of DOT approved baby car seats providing they are "maxi type" (complete shell type) if there is a free window seat available.

Thierry Botrel

[Also, see the  Rational Solution]

December, 1998

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