Lonely Planet Writer

New flight safety drive seeks separate infant and child seats

Canada is pushing for infants and young children to be belted up in their own seats rather than on their parents’ laps in a move designed to step up flying safety.

New drive to increase in-flight safety for infants and young children
New drive to increase in-flight safety for infants and young children Image by Christian Haugen / CC BY 2.0

The country’s Transportations Safety Board (TSB) says the measures need to be adopted as parents are unable to hang onto their children during severe turbulence, accidents or during sudden deceleration.

The Toronto Star reported the chairperson of the group, Kathy Fox, as saying this recommendation was being championed following a report in a crash three years ago in Nunavut when a baby of six months being held on his mother’s lap died after a small turboprop overshot a runway in bad weather.

Separate seats best way to deal with air problems such as turbulence or sudden deceleration in plane speed
Separate seats best way to deal with air problems such as turbulence or sudden deceleration in plane speed Image by Iwan Gabovitch / CC BY 2.0

The probe into the crash found that if the baby had his own seat with proper restraints, he would have had a better chance of survival, similar to all other the passengers on the crashed airplane.

However, if Transport Canada (TC) initiated changes for such a situation to exist for all children under two years of age who currently fly free in parents arms, that would lead to significantly higher costs for families travelling by air.

Although TC at present encourages travellers to use an approved car seat for infants or children, it is not mandatory, just as is the case in many other countries including the US.

A study by the Australian Civil Aviation Authority had highlighted last year that safety measures for infants and children had not kept pace with restraints that have been introduced for adults.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation is now seeking to introduce new rules across its 190 countries. The group has been examining child restraint issues within cabin safety and is due to issues its own guidelines very soon.

However, Anthony Philbin, the ICAO spokesman said their draft would recommend that each individual has their own seat, while also stressing that the height and weight of a child should be considered so that appropriate restraint systems could be used.