SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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H.R. 1309, CHILD SAFETY RESTRAINT SYSTEMS REQUIREMENT ON COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT
PLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at [http://www.house.gov/transportation]. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.
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TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS
AUGUST 1, 1996
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTUCTURE
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania, Chairman
DON YOUNG, Alaska
WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
SUSAN MOLINARI, New York
WILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
Y. TIM HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
BILL BAKER, California
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
PETER I. BLUTE, Massachusetts
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
TILLIE K. FOWLER, Florida
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER T. BACHUS, Alabama
JERRY WELLER, Illinois
ZACH WAMP, Tennessee
TOM LATHAM, Iowa
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
ANDREA SEASTRAND, California
RANDY TATE, Washington
SUE KELLY, New York
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
BILL MARTINI, New Jersey
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCDAN FRISA, New York
TODD TIAHRT, Kansas
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
PETE GEREN, Texas
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
BUD CRAMER, Alabama
BARBARA-ROSE COLLINS, Michigan
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
PAT DANNER, Missouri
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCEDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
BILL K. BREWSTER, Oklahoma
KAREN McCARTHY, Missouri
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
THOMAS C. SAWYER, Ohio
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
Subcommittee on Aviation
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee, Chairman
JERRY WELLER, Illinois, Vice-Chairman
WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
WILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
Y. TIM HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
JAY KIM, California
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER T. BACHUS, Alabama
ANDREA SEASTRAND, California
RANDY TATE, Washington
SUE KELLY, New York
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCRAY LaHOOD, Illinois
BILL MARTINI, New Jersey
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BUD CRAMER, Alabama
BARBARA-ROSE COLLINS, Michigan
JERROLD NADLER, New York
PAT DANNER, Missouri
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
PETE GEREN, Texas
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Bennington, Thomas, President, CRSA Corporation
Brown-Lohr, Jan, Flight Attendant, United Airlines, and Member, Association of Flight Attendants, AFLCIO
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Friend, Patricia A., International President, Association of Flight Attendants, AFLCIO
Gilligan, Peggy, Deputy Associate Administrator for Regulation and Certification, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, accompanied by Louis Maillett, Acting Assistant Administrator for Policy, Planning, and International Aviation
Lightfoot, Hon. Jim, a Representative in Congress from Iowa, accompanied by David and Kathleen Tourtellotte, Clifton, VA
Meenan, John, Vice President, Policy and Planning, Air Transport Association of America
Sweedler, Barry, Director, Office of Safety Recommendations, National Transportation Safety Board, accompanied by Nora Marshall, Senior Investigator, Survival Factors Division
PREPARED STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY A MEMBER OF CONGRESS
Lightfoot, Hon. Jim, of Iowa
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
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Friend, Patricia A
Tourtellotte, David and Kathleen
SUBMISSION FOR THE RECORD
Lightfoot, Hon. Jim, a Representative in Congress from Iowa, responses to questions from the Air Transport Association
ADDITION TO THE RECORD
Association of Flight Attendants:
Report, ''A Reexamination Of Economic Arguments On Requiring Restraints For Children Under Age Two In Commerical Airlines''
Letter to Chairman Shuster dated September 6, 1996
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H.R. 1309, CHILD SAFETY RESTRAINT SYSTEMS REQUIREMENT ON COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT
THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 1996
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Aviation,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:07 a.m. in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John J. Duncan, Jr., (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. DUNCAN. I'd like to go ahead and call the subcommittee to order.
Today the subcommittee will examine issues related to the use of child safety seats aboard aircraft and, more specifically, we will hear testimony on H.R. 1309 introduced by our good friend, Jim Lightfoot, from Iowa. This legislation would require the use of child safety restraint systems on domestic and overseas flights for air passengers under 2 years of age. Presently, passengers under 2 years of age are allowed to ride on the laps of their parents if their parents so choose.
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The subcommittee is very pleased to have a number of very knowledgeable and experienced witnesses before us today to discuss this issue.
The issue, to boil it down very simply: some airline attendants and others feel that this is very much a safety-related issue and that we need to do this for the protection of small children. Others feel that if we do this, because of the great expense of airline tickets for many trips, that this would mean that some families or many families would drive instead of flying, and, of course, our highways are much, much more dangerous than our aviation system, and so we need to look very closely at this.
The first witness scheduled is our good friend, Congressman Lightfoot. I think he's on his way. While we're waiting for him, I will call on the ranking member, Mr. Lipinski, for any remarks he has at this time.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, as you mentioned, this morning's hearing will focus on the use of the child safety seats on aircraft and whether their use should be required.
Although this is an issue which the Subcommittee on Aviation has addressed in previous Congresses, it clearly remains an important safety question. I commend you for scheduling this hearing today.
Mandating the use of child safety seats on airplanes is a real public policy issue. It seems logical that a child will be better protected in an appropriately-designed safety seat than on the lap of a parent. At the same time, since the parent would have to pay for an additional seat for the child, some families might choose not to travel or to travel by some means which is less safe than air travel.
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There are clearly costs that would result from the mandate of this kind, as well as benefits. This morning's hearing is an opportunity for the members of this panel to get a better sense of what both of those are.
This morning we will hear from our colleague, Jim Lightfoot, who has been a real leader on aviation issues throughout his service in the House. Following his testimony, witnesses from the FAA and the NTSB will comprise the second panel. Finally, the final panel will have representatives from the Air Transport Association, the Association of Flight Attendants, and a proponent of the specially-designed safety seat for use on aircraft.
Mr. Chairman, I again commend you for your leadership on this issue, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Lipinski.
Mr. CRAMER. No comments, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. DeFazio?
Mr. DEFAZIO. Nothing at this time.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Geren?
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Mr. GEREN. Nothing. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much.
I want to first welcome Jim Lightfoot. Jim, of course, was a very active member of this subcommittee and has been before us several times since then as a witness.
This may be the last time that you appear before us as a witness while a Member of the House, and it's certainly our loss. I'm certainly hopeful, though, that next year we'll be referring to you as ''Senator Lightfoot.''
It's a privilege to have you with us again, and you may begin your statement. You have been really a good friend to this chairman and to, I think, almost everybody on this committee, and we appreciate you and the work you've done. You may begin.
TESTIMONY OF HON. JIM LIGHTFOOT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM IOWA, ACCOMPANIED BY DAVID AND KATHLEEN TOURTELLOTTE, CLIFTON, VA
Mr. LIGHTFOOT. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the kind words and the good work that you've done as well.
We are joined this morning by the Tourtellotte family of Clifton, Virginia, who, back in early July, were passengers on Delta flight 1288 when the engine exploded on takeoff, killing two people. Mr. Chairman, I think it's important that the subcommittee hear from the Tourtellotte family about how a child safety seat saved their daughter when the aircraft engine exploded, sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment.
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In the interest of time, at this point I'd like to ask permission to submit, for the record, questions of the other witnesses and submit my full statement for the record and briefly summarize my remarks.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the subcommittee taking time out of its schedule to reexamine this issue. As you know, the subcommittee reviewed this matter 6 years agoin fact, almost to the dayand I believe there are a number of new facts which have come to light that justify another hearing on the matter.
I first became involved in this issue in 1989 after the United Airlines crash in Sioux City which claimed the life of a toddler who might have been saved had he been restrained. Sadly, the Avianca Crash in New York followed upon Sioux City with seven children injured, one of whom died. Then, in 1994, a baby girl was thrown from her mother's lap in the USAir crash in Charlotte, North Carolina, and that child died.
In both cases, the mothers survived because the FAA insists that they be restrained while in flight. In both instances the National Transportation Safety Board determined a child safety seat would have saved the children's lives.
Airline crashes are not the only occasion where child safety seats can protect infants. There are also numerous cases of sudden clear air turbulence that throws children seated in their parents' laps into the air.
One American Airlines flight from Miami to San Francisco encountered turbulence so severe that there were 26 people injured. Among those were two toddlers that were literally thrown from their parents' laps.
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Perhaps the saddest turbulence accident was a flight that experienced severe turbulence on approach into San Juan. The only injury was a skull fracture to a 7-week-old lap child, again torn from his mother's arms.
Mr. Chairman, my legislation is supported by the NTSB, the Association of Flight Attendants, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Aviation Consumer Action Project, the Safe America Foundation, and Safety-Belt-Safe-USA. But, unfortunately, the FAA continues to oppose this legislation based on what I believe are some very questionable studies which essentially conclude that mandating infants be restrained while in flight would, in fact, cost more lives than it would save.
Mr. Chairman, that argument and how the FAA supports it through a series of studies of dubious worth is the essential issue that I hope that this subcommittee will examine today.
Frankly, I am offended by the notion that requiring infants to be restrained in flight does not save enough lives. What is enough? I hope the subcommittee will ask the FAA to provide to Congress today a list of how many lives have been saved recently by requiring air carriers to carry life rafts and life vests. I suspect the answer is zero. Applying the FAA's twisted cost/benefit logic from safety seats to other equipment we see, we could eliminate a lot of other safety equipment on airplanes.
Mr. Chairman, as a ranking member of the full committee, Mr. Oberstar once noted, this is such a seemingly straightforward issue which has developed into a very convoluted one. Let me leave you with just a few basic thoughts.
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First, I think every passenger on an airplane deserves the same level of protection. The FAA can say it however it wants, but the simple fact remains that current regulations afford passengers two different levels of safety. It's not right that luggage and pets and even cadavers can be safely secured but our children are not.
Second, the FAA has offered us nothing more than a series of studies, which, as they are discredited or simply replaced by new ones reaching the same old worn-out conclusion.
Third, I have great faith that when Congress makes a policy decision that all passengers deserve the same level of airline protection, the market will adjust. The airlines are not going to risk losing billions of dollars worth of family travel business.
And let's ask the FAA, who are now the new expert in aviation demographics, one other question: how many families are going to stop flying once their children reach the age of two? My guess is none.
Coming in this week I had an instance on the airplane. There was a family in front of me that had a child in a safety seat. The airplane was full. Obviously, they had bought a ticket for the child.
I asked them, as we were getting off the aircraft, if they had purchased a seat and what their feelings were about it. The father said, ''Yes, it was $200, but it's pretty cheap. If we had not flown, we would have been on the road for 4 days.'' He said, ''Our motels and meals would have cost more than $200, plus the fact that the child was comfortable on the flight.''
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Coming into Washington we ran into some turbulence around some thunderstorms and there were some other lap children that the mothers were having trouble retaining. Many of them were crying and screaming. The little kid in the safety seat slept through the whole thing.
So I think there is more than enough evidence that substantiates what we're trying to do.
The question, I think, Mr. Chairman, comes down to how many more children must die, how many more have to be hurt before we reach the threshold of FAA's ghoulish cost/benefit ratio?
Mr. Chairman, as you mentioned earlier, this is likely the last time that I'll appear before this subcommittee as a Member of the House. I've been very proud to be a member of this subcommittee in the past and greatly enjoyed our work together in this session toward FAA reform. The subcommittee has a great tradition of demanding more in terms of safety from the FAA than sometimes the FAA was prepared to give.
The traveling public takes for granted floor-level lighting, protective breathing devices, smoke detectors, collision alert and avoidance systems, but, quite frankly, I know who pushed those things first, and it was this subcommittee.
So let me thank you again for holding the hearing. I urge you to take the lead one more time by closing another loophole in aviation safety.
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Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the chance to be here and would be happy to answer questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Jim. And you have requested that the TourtellottesI really had just thought that one was going to testify. Are both of you going to make statements?
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. Yes, sir. She's just got a quick closing statement.
Mr. DUNCAN. Okay. Go ahead.
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, as an American citizen I want to tell you what an honor it is to testify before such distinguished Members of Congress.
Never in a million years did my wife and I think that we would be here giving you our opinion. For this we are truly honored and thankful. Unfortunately, the circumstances under which we are here are not as honorable.
As Congressman Lightfoot has told you, myself, my wife, Kathleen, and our 15-month-old baby daughter, Emma, were on Delta flight 1288 when the engine exploded, killing Anita Saxton and her 12-year-old son, Noland. In fact, Noland was sitting in front of myself, and Mrs. Saxton was sitting in front of Kathleen. The horror and trauma we witnessed that day go beyond any words we have for you. And, while the Saxton's deaths were tragic, it is not the reason we are here.
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We've been told by the NTSB that we are the first, and I presume only, family that has been involved in an aviation accident where a child safety seat was used that resulted in the saving of a life, my daughter's.
If you'd allow me, I'd like to digress and tell you about the circumstances leading up to us deciding to purchase a seat for our daughter instead of just putting her in our lap.
I originally was against spending extra money, but Kathleen was adamant about using a car seat. It resulted in a small argument, and in the end, as usual, she won. I think she cinched it up when she looked me squarely in the eye and said, ''Isn't your daughter's life worth $200?'' What was I going to say? No, it is not?
When the engine exploded that day, debris was flying everywhere. Smoke filled the aft section of the plane, and panic and pandemonium ensued. All I really remember, after hearing an extremely loud explosion, was seeing a rather large section of interior paneling of the plane land on Emma's car seat. It landed so that the wings of the car seat protected her.
I pushed the paneling up and off her and started unfastening the seat belts to get off the plane as fast as we could. All I kept thinking was, ''This is how we're going to die, in the back of this plane.'' Had Emma not been in a child safety seat, there is absolutely, positively no doubt in our minds that that chunk of debris would have hit Emma and resulted in a serious injury or fatality.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The NTSB told us that the car seat was pock-marked with debris and shrapnel all over its left side. That car seat saved her. I wish today I had it to show you but, unfortunately, due to the damage and the blood that stained it, it had to be destroyed. I brought with us today another one that we had. This is what saved my daughter's life, and this can save other children's lives if you decide to make it so.
Think about this: why do they tell us to secure our luggage under the seat in front of us? Because if something was to happen, that luggage could fly across the cabin and hurt someone. What makes a child any different than a piece of luggage? What are we saying? Do we place more importance on carry-on baggage than we do our own children?
I understand this issue goes beyond the obvious to saving lives, and that there is an economic sidethe old argument that if you require people to purchase seats for children they won't fly and the airline industry will lose money. Well, if my history is correct, people said the same thing in the 1950s about seat belts and in the early 1970s people said the same thing about air bagstoo expensive. Nobody will spend that kind of money for safety. Car sales will drop.
Today we can look back and say they were wrong.
Instead of looking back, let's look ahead. People will still fly.
Let me make one suggestion to address this. Everything has a cost associated with itthe seats in this place, generation of electricity, everything. Why not sell children's seats at cost? This way parents get a good deal and airlines aren't losing any money. They're not making any money, but they're not losing any, either.
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I'd like to say that I'm sure everyone here, whether you're for this bill or against it, has children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews. How can we equate the value of their lives to an airline ticket? I wish each and every one of you could have been in our shoes, have seen what we sawtwo people who seconds earlier were alive and are now deadwipe their blood off your legs and feet and see the devastation and carnage that we saw and know that possibly the only reason your child is alive today is because they were in a child safety seat. I guarantee you each and every one of you would, without hesitation, know that child safety seats should be required for children in airplanes.
While statistically we may be one in a million, statistically there will be another plane accident, and statistically children will die because they were not properly restrained. This I can assure you. And, while it's too late for those children who have died in the past, it is within your power to give those children in the future plane accidents a statistical chance.
This country has been a world leader for 220 years because of the men and women of Congress like you who stand up and protect those who cannot protect themselves, regardless of the cost. I beg of you, please set an example for the rest of the world: mandate child safety seats on airplanes. Do not let another innocent child who doesn't have the option to buy their own ticket perish.
Once again it has been an honor to address you today and a privilege second only to that of voting.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now my wife, Kathleen, will close with a few remarks.
Mrs. TOURTELLOTTE. Mr. Chairman, I just would like to thank you for the opportunity to testify this morning.
As a mother, I watch in awe as my 15-month-old daughter grows. I realize that the decision to purchase the baby seat saved her life and gave her the opportunity to grow. I know in my heart and mind that the time for Mr. Lightfoot's legislation is now.
Again, thank you. I look forward to answering any questions you or any other committee members may have.
Mr. DUNCAN. I usually introduce the witnesses, but I didn't have your names, and I should get you to state your names for the record. Would both of you state your names, please?
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. My name is David Jefferson Tourtellotte.
Mrs. TOURTELLOTTE. Kathleen Tourtellotte.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much for being here with us today. Ordinarily we try to moveI try to move pretty quickly through what we refer to as a ''Members panel'' because we have an opportunity to speak to Mr. Lightfoot and other Members at other times and we want to get to other witnesses, but perhaps some of the Members here have questions of either Mr. or Mrs. Tourtellotte.
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Does anybodyMr. Geren?
Mr. GEREN. Mr. Chairman, could I address a question to Mr. Lightfoot?
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes, sir. Sure.
Mr. GEREN. I have thought, I guess as every member of the committee has thought a lot about this, and thought about it in very personal terms because when we were doing this issue 6 years ago was the time my first child was born, and the lifestyle we live, they've flown a lot. I've got a 3-year-old, and next month I'm going to have a newborn again.
A concern I've had in thinking about the safety seat is, if you do have turbulence and the child is 6 months old or 8 months old, I think the likely parental response is going to be to put the child in the mother's lap or father's lap if the child is upset and crying.
You'd like to think that they'd leave them restrained, but you get a bumpy airplane, the child is upset, you're nervous, you're frightened, I think that's likely what would be the parental response. You might have the flight attendant come up and say, ''Put that child back in the safety seat,'' and the child is hysterical, and it just oftentimes wouldn't happen.
I thought of just a possible alternative, and I just wanted to throw it out to you, Jim, and some of the experts who are herethe thought of some sort of harness that you could put on the child that would affix to the parent's seat belt.
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Now, the Tourtellottes' issue that they've raised is very different than the issue of separation and the additional protection you need in case the body of the aircraft has been penetrated, but on the separation issue, which is what Congressman Lightfoot has worked so hard on and is really the leader on this issue and has been for years, I just wonder if there wouldn't be some sort of option that would provide that sort of restraint, keep the separation from occurring, but allow that child to be restrained in the parent's lap.
I just throw that out. Jim, I'd like to hear your response to it because I do see, in addition to the concerns that people may choose to drive rather than flyI think the seriousness of that problem has probably been over-stated in this debate, but I think it's something that we have to bear in mind. But I think the natural parental instinct to bring that child to you is something that we also have to bear in mind, and if there wouldn't be some way to address the separation problem and also recognize what many parents are going to do if the circumstances get threatening.
Mr. LIGHTFOOT. I appreciate the question, and I guess the first thing, most people's frame of reference is automobiles, and the forces that are present in an aircraft that's in a crash or even hits turbulence is well beyond what most of us are able to comprehend, and the ability to hold on to a child is virtually impossible, as we have seen, there is empirical data that backs that up, such as the child in the crash that had the skull fracture, for example. I'm sure the mother was hanging on for dear life, but, nevertheless, it was torn out of her arms.
So there is a question of physics that we have to address, and the seat at this point in time is the only approved method that we have of restraining a child. Of course, the seat, I think, that David had is probably a DOT-approved seat that has a sticker on it that says, ''Can be used both in cars and an airplane.'' That has been through a whole testing process. They have been crash tested, the whole nine yards.
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What I would like to do, I think, at this point would be to go ahead with the child safety seats and go ahead then with research into other types of restraint.
There are a number of things that are out there being discussed. A fellow came in the office the other day and brought a small seat which actually clips into the railing that holds the passenger seat and would sit between a mother's legs on the floor. I'm sure there are people that aren't going to like that because of the potential to block an aisle, but if it's in a window seat you can argue that.
So I think what we need to do, before we lose any more kids, is to go ahead and pass this bill but continue to keep the door open to look at new and better methods of doing it.
Mr. GEREN. I appreciate that. I think that, bearing in mind the physics of a crash and the speeds involved, for a child under two you're talking about a child that will weigh less than 30 pounds most likely, and the seats and the seat belts have a margin of safety that I doubt very few instances would be exceeded by an additional 30 pounds. I don't know what the seats are designed for, the adult passenger seats and the seat belts, but my guess is it's over 300 pounds, probably.
If the harness that the child were in were clipped to the seat belt and all that pressure were put on that seat belt, I still think it would probably fall under the limits that are required by the FAA for seat belts today.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I just throw that out. I do think that parents are going to take a child out of that seat when things get frightening and if the child is hysterical. I'd like to think we wouldn't, but I think there is a good chance we would.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. LIGHTFOOT. I appreciate your comments, Peter. At this point in time, though, I guess, if I got my choice between letting my granddaughter sit there and fuss and scream for 5 minutes or losing her, I'll let her fuss and scream.
The other thing, too, on the forces, a 60-degree bank turn is a two-G turn, so that 30-pound child weighs 60, and that's a normalwell, airlines don't bank that steep. Most of them hold it to 30. But even in a 30-degree turn that child suddenly weighs 45 pounds just sitting in the seat, so there is a lot ofwhen you're coming in at a couple hundred knots and go into a corn field, like they did in Sioux City, those forces become almost immeasurable.
Mr. GEREN. Thank you, Jim. Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity.
Mr. DUNCAN. Good questioning and good comments, Mr. Geren.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Two comments. First of all, in response to the previous interchange, I would point out that one of the greatest dangers to the child is being crushed between the parent and the seat in front of them because we don't have shoulder harnesses in airplanes, and so the body of the parent gets thrust forward and the child gets crushed between the seat and the parent, and that's one of the greatest problems of even holding them in your lap, and also would be a problem if you restrained them, even in the lap position.
The other is a question for Mr. and Mrs. Tourtellotte. I gather you bought this seat specifically for this flight?
Mrs. TOURTELLOTTE. Yes.
Mr. EHLERS. You did not have a car seat then that you used for transporting your child?
Mrs. TOURTELLOTTE. Well, we bought three seats and we used one of the three seats for the car seat specifically, so we placed the car seat in between the two of us in the seat and secured it as we would in the automobile.
Mr. EHLERS. Okay, but you do use a child safety restraint in your car, as well, I presume?
Mrs. TOURTELLOTTE. Yes, sir.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EHLERS. I just wondered why you had to purchase one specifically for an airplane. Was the one that you use in your car not adequate for the airplane?
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. No. We purchased a seat specifically for the car seat. We weren't
Mrs. TOURTELLOTTE. The airline seat.
Mr. EHLERS. I see what you mean. You purchased the airplane seat to hold the car seat you already owned.
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. Most people just put the baby on their laps, but we went ahead and bought the extra seat.
Mr. EHLERS. I'm sorry. I misunderstood your testimony. Right. Fine. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'd address the Tourtellottes. The FAA would tell us that there is an extraordinary price sensitivity here and that your average consumer, when confronted with this additional cost, would not have purchased a seat for the child.
What was the total fare involved for the three of you for this trip?
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. Approximately $600 for all three of us to fly round-trip.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Okay. So there is no discount at all to a $200 seat?
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. No.
Mrs. TOURTELLOTTE. Right.
Mr. DEFAZIO. What was the distance involved?
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. It was from Washington National to Atlanta, and then from Atlanta to Pensacola, and from Pensacola back to Atlanta, which is the flight we were on that exploded.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Yes. Now, how long was your trip? How many days?
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. We were in Florida for a week.
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Mr. DEFAZIO. Now, if you had driven there, it would have taken
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. At least 2 days with the baby.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Right.
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. Because you can't
Mr. DEFAZIO. So you would have had a week-long trip, and, according to the FAA, the average person would then spend 4 days driving to have 3 days at their destination to save $200 and would pay for all those dinners, breakfasts, lunches, motel rooms, and they would make that choice. I guess you're not rational consumers, huh?
Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. Well, I guess if we were rational we wouldn't have bought the extra seat, but, had we not bought the extra seat, our baby probably would have been dead today.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Right. See, the point with them is that if you were forced to buy that extra seat, that you'd choose to drive, and clearly that wouldn't have made sense economically or in terms of the amount of time you have off. I mean, I don't think the average family has an infinite amount of time so they can decide they're going to drive 1,000 miles instead of flying 1,000 miles and take an extra 4 days.
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Mr. TOURTELLOTTE. Correct.
Mrs. TOURTELLOTTE. I think, when it comes to your child, though, you're not rational. You don't do rational things.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Maybe they didn't figure that into their equation, either.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have any other questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. DeFazio.
Mrs. KELLY. No questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right.
Jim, thank you very much.
Mr. and Mrs. Tourtellotte, thank you for coming and sharing your personal experiences with us.
Mrs. TOURTELLOTTE. Thank you.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you.
All right. We'll go now to panel number one, consisting of: Peggy Gilligan, who is the deputy associate administrator for regulation and certification of the Federal Aviation Administration; Louise Maillett, who is the acting assistant administrator for policy, planning, & International Aviation with the FAA; and Barry Sweedler, who is the director of the Office of Safety Recommendations for the National Transportation Safety Board, who is accompanied by Nora Marshall, who is the survival factors specialist for the NTSB.
We're certainly pleased to have all of you appear with us. I suppose that we'll just proceed in the order in which the witnesses are listed on the agenda sheet, and that means that Ms. Gilligan, we'll start with you, and you may proceed with your statement.
Thank you very much.
TESTIMONY OF PEGGY GILLIGAN, DEPUTY ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR REGULATION AND CERTIFICATION, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, ACCOMPANIED BY LOUIS MAILLETT, ACTING ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR FOR POLICY, PLANNING, AND INTERNATIONAL AVIATION; AND BARRY SWEEDLER, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD, ACCOMPANIED BY NORA MARSHALL, SENIOR INVESTIGATOR, SURVIVAL FACTORS DIVISION
Ms. GILLIGAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee.
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I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee today to discuss H.R. 1309, legislation sponsored by Representative Lightfoot to require the use of child safety restraint systems aboard commercial aircraft.
Accompanying me today, Mr. Chairman, is Louise Maillett, who is the acting assistant administrator for Policy, Planning, and International Aviation at FAA.
Mr. Chairman, while it is true that children under the age of two are permitted to travel on commercial aircraft when seated on the lap of an accompanying adult, I must state clearly that the FAA encourages the use of certified child restraint systems for all infants and children traveling in air transportation.
The FAA does not require the use of those restraint systems because our study of the issue has shown that to do so would result in an increased number of deaths and injuries because some passengers would be diverted from air travel to other less safe modes of transportation.
Mr. Chairman, we understand as well as your Members here today that that position sounds jarring, but the rationale behind it has been supported through several thorough, analytic studies conducted not only by the FAA but by outside experts in transportation and economics.
The analysis was most recently updated at the request of this committee, and the FAA submitted its report to Congress on child restraint systems in May 1995.
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The analysis conducted in conjunction with that report supports the results of the previous work about the use of child restraint systems aboard aircraft. If I may take a moment, I'll just discuss the study results.
Our study found that when child restraints that are fully effective for infants and small children become available for use in aircraft, a regulatory mandate could prevent an estimated five infant fatalities over the next 10 years. The study went on to demonstrate that if restraints are mandated and families pay full fare for every family seat, the average additional cost over the cost of 10 years would be about $200 per family per trip.
In other words, given the numbers of infants and small children estimated to be traveling by air, those families traveling with infants and children would pay an additional $109 million per year to fly.
The study assumes that families will react differently to price increases, but, in general, the study found that families are very price sensitive. Where travel by another means of transportation such as automobile is an option, our study found that if families traveling with infants are charged the full fare, that only 27 percent of families would continue to travel by air.
The study did find that over half, about 53 percent, of the families would end up not traveling at all, but there would be 20 percent of families who would choose other modes of transportation, and therein, Mr. Chairman, is the problem that the agency faces.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The unintended safety impact of a restraint requirement is to put at risk those travelers who divert to other forms of transportation, because, as we know well, any other mode of transportation is less safe than air transportation.
As a result of that 20 percent diversion of families with infants, it is estimated that about 82 more deaths would occur among children and the adults who travel with them than if they had flown.
Some critics of our work have said that if restraints were used or mandated, air carriers would act to keep families as customers by choosing to lower the fare for infants, or they'd use other marketing strategies. In fact, our colleagues at the Safety Board, although they've not provided additional data for us to consider, have concluded that the study's projected cost to travelers and the projected revenue losses to airlines are based on incomplete analysis.
But, as the study makes clear, neither the ATA nor any individual airline has yet to come forward and commit that it would limit the charge for a child seat, and our study found that if air carriers were to charge just 25 percent of the regular full fare, some families would choose other ways to get to their destination and we would still have the unintended safety impact of an increase of 17 child and adult deaths over the next 10 years.
In sum, Mr. Chairman, our study of the issue of mandating the use of restraints for children under 2 years of age makes clear that to require such use could result in an increase in death and injury to the children and the families who travel with them. The only exception, as the study makes clear, is that airlines could choose not to charge to provide a separate seat for the use of the child restraint, but, as you know, the FAA does not have authority to require that economic impact of providing the seat without cost.
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So, with that limitation in mind, we have chosen what we believe to be the best approach to reach the goals that all of us who will be here today share, and that is a policy of strongly encouraging the use of child restraint systems aboard aircraft.
Last June we initiated a campaign to get children off laps and into straps. The FAA deputy administrator, Linda Hall Daschle, made clear that there should be no confusion about the FAA's position to enhance air safety for children by advocating the use of effective restraint systems. Toward that end, we have developed important guidance to inform parents and others who are confused by the array of products that are available on the market or unsure about what type of restraint is appropriate for their child.
The guidance FAA has put forth is based on the test results from the FAA's Civil Air Medical Institute, referred to as CAMI, and it is as followsand if I may point out for you some of the restraints that we've brought with us.
The first clear guidance is for children under 20 pounds, they should be restrained in certified, rear-facing child restraint systems, which is the first example here on the table.
For children weighing between 20 and 40 pounds, they should be restrained in a certified, forward-facing child restraint system, the second example at the table and the type of restraint that the Tourtellottes just demonstrated.
And children weighing over 40 pounds should be restrained in the standard lap belt attached to the airline seat, just as an adult.
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As a result of research conducted by CAMI, FAA proposed to ban the use of specific types of restraints, which we've also brought here to show you. At the far end of the table is what's called a ''booster seat,'' which provides no protection to the back behind the child, and the restraint somewhat on an angle there is what's called a ''harness type,'' where that harness is put around the child and it is connected in the back to the seat belt on the airline seat.
CAMI's studies revealed that these devices do not provide adequate protection for young children aboard aircraft. The final rule banning the use of those two types of restraints and others that are similar in design was published on June 4th of this year at the same time the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued its rule prohibiting the certification of those kinds of devices for use on aircraft, and those rules will become effective September 3rd.
Information on all of these types of devices, along with other recommendations and suggestions for safe air travel for families, is available through an FAA hotline and through the page we maintain on the worldwide web. We've also attached to my statement one example of the straightforward written guidance that we provide to parents and other interested parties when it is requested.
I need to reiterate that the FAA has been absolutely clear on how to best protect children on aircraft. If children weigh less than 40 pounds, the best place for them is in a child restraint. A parent should start with a rear-facing child restraint for a child that weighs less than 20 pounds, should move up to a forward-facing restraint for children between 20 and 40 pounds, and the best place for a child over 40 pounds is in the airline seat, properly belted in.
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This fall we will launch a major public education campaign designed to ensure that all passengers understand the safest forms of travel. This nationwide effort will reach out to everyone, including parents, flight attendants, airlines, child safety advocates, and others to help us and industry continue to get this message out.
We're pleased to point out that we're working with the Air Transport Association to produce educational materials for dispatchers, pilots, and flight attendants, with a focus on turbulence, in general, and the restraint of children in aircraft during turbulence.
While it is true our data has demonstrated that the forward-facing seats like the second example here on the table do not provide the level of safety we currently require for all adult passengers, no one contests that children are better off in any of the restraints that are currently on the market and properly certificated.
Our research continues to explore developments of new restraints or supplementary devices better suited for use aboard aircraft, and we've been assisted in this research by NHTSA, Transport Canada, the Australian Civil Aviation Authority, and the Society of Automotive Engineers.
I want to share with you today what has become for us the most exciting development, which is a prototype platform we believe can be used for installation of forward-facing restraints. I believe a photograph of that prototype is attached to my statement, as well, and I'd be pleased to describe for you how it works and how the testing has gone.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This platform has been designed by one of FAA's certification engineers. The prototype was built at CAMI, and it has been undergoing testing at CAMI for the last month. We've done a series of tests, making improvements and refinements, and we believe that we will solve the technical issues that relate to forward-facing seats.
Mr. Chairman, FAA's Congressionally-mandated study and the research accompanying it indicates that mandating child safety seats may result in improved safety for the child whose parents continue to purchase airline tickets, but the data indicates it lessens the safety margin for those children and the adults who cannot afford the increased cost of flying. We know it has that impact, even when the cost is significantly discounted.
That is why, instead of the mandatory approach advocated by H.R. 1309, we have adopted a non-regulatory approach which informs and encourages parents to use appropriate restraints, which will include a nationwide public education campaign and through which we are requesting airlines to work with us to develop strategies and incentives to encourage families with young children to use restraints when they travel.
We recognize the vigorous debate that has been ongoing on this issue. We stand ready to review any additional data that anyone can bring to us that might draw different conclusions from our analysis, and we'll continue to work with parents and our industry and safety advocates to explore alternatives.
However, with the data currently before us, we must not place at greater risk children and families who are unable to make the additional investment in air transportation.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That concludes my prepared statement, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Ms. Gilligan.
I apologize to the other witnesses, but we do have two votes that are going on right now, and we will have to break at this point for about 15 minutes.
Mr. DUNCAN. We'll go ahead and call the hearing back to order.
We've just completed the statement by Ms. Gilligan, and now, Ms. Maillett, do you have a statement?
Ms. MAILLETT. No, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Okay. You're just withyou're just along for the ride today?
Ms. MAILLETT. Not at all.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. And for the questions. All right.
Mr. SWEEDLER. Good morning, Chairman Duncan, Mr. Lipinski, and members of the subcommittee. The National Transportation Safety Board is pleased to offer testimony in support of legislation to require the use of child safety restraint systems aboard aircraft.
My name is Barry Sweedler. I'm the director of the Board's Office of Safety Recommendations. Accompanying me today is Nora Marshall, who is a senior investigator in our survival factors division.
I'd like to submit my full statement for the record and just summarize my testimony, to save time.
As you are aware, the Safety Board issued its first safety recommendations regarding child restraints aboard aircraft in 1979. At that time the Board recommended that the FAA expedite research with a view toward early rule-making on the means to effectively restrain infants and small children during in-flight upsets and survivable crash landings.
Since then, we have continued to issue recommendations on this subject, including a 1990 recommendation that all occupants be restrained during take-off, landing, and turbulent conditions, and that all infants and small children be restrained in an approved child restraint system.
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Unfortunately, there is still no requirement to properly restrain infants and small childrenthe only passengers, crew, baggage, service equipmentanything on the airplane not requiring restraint.
The Safety Board testified before this committee 6 years ago on the subject of child restraints in aircraft. At that hearing, the Safety Board concluded that unrestrained infants and small children were not being offered the same level of protection as other occupants, and that unrestrained children expose other occupants in the cabin to an increased risk of injury.
A recent accident points at our continued concern. An unrestrained infant was killed during a DC9 accident near Charlotte airport in July 1994. Thirty-seven passengers received fatal injuries, including a 9-month-old in-lap infant who was held by her mother in the last row of the cabin. The child's mother was unable to hold on to the child during the impact sequence, and the baby died of massive head injuries. The mother survived with fractures to her elbow and arm.
As a result of the investigation, the Board issued two safety recommendations to the FAA urging it to require that all infants and small children be restrained in a manner appropriate to their size and to develop standards for forward-facing, integrated child safety seats for transport category aircraft.
You have heard Ms. Gilligan describe the FAA's position. The Safety Board believes that the FAA's projected costs to air travelers, revenue losses to airlines, and passenger diversion to automobiles as a result of mandated CRS for infants are based upon incomplete analysis.
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The scenario proposed by the FAA that results in passenger diversion to automobiles and a net safety reduction based on the premise that substantially higher air fares for families traveling with children will create these diversions, the Safety Board is certain that the airlines will not let billions of dollars worth of price-sensitive travelers shift to an automobile without competitive response.
In testimony before the House in July 1990, the vice president of operations of the Air Transport Association stated that, ''With regard to potential passenger diversion to automobiles, air carriers, 'rather than risk the loss of one or more adult fares, or perhaps an entire family unit, will offer a fare arrangement acceptable, even for families traveling with infants who previously would have flown free.'''
The Safety Board also noted the FAA's intention to develop a nationwide public education campaign to promote the use of child restraints. The Safety Board does not, however, believe that education, alone, will result in the protection of infants and small children on airplanes. Education, alone, did not result in high usage of these child restraint systems in automobiles; consequently, all 50 States eventually passed mandatory child restraint laws.
I might note, Mr. Chairman, that prior to the passage of these State laws, only about 15 percent of children were properly restrained in automobiles. Since the passage of these laws, the usage rates are up to 80 percent.
The Board is pleased to report to the committee that it has investigated two accidents in which these child restraint systems were used and provided protection to the childrenone an air carrier accident and one a general aviation accident.
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In September 1992, a Piper PA30 entered an uncontrolled descent and crashed at Broussard, Louisiana. Parts of both wings and both horizontal stabilizers separated before the airplane struck the ground.
Although the impact involved high vertical and side loads, a 4-year-old boy and a 10-month-old girl who occupied the bench seat survived. The father died.
The Safety Board determined that the children survived because they occupied the child restraint system.
You heard from the parents of the child in the Pensacola accident. We're certainly investigating how that seat performed, and that will be part of our investigation, but it does look like a success story.
Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, the Safety Board has, over the past 25 years, issued various recommendations that urge the FAA to solve the problems associated with unrestrained children. The Safety Board believes that protection for children should not be a safety option. It is time for the FAA to require all occupants to be properly restrained.
That concludes my formal statement. Ms. Marshall and I would be pleased to respond to any questions from you or the committee.
Thank you, sir.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
I'll go first to Mr. Lipinski for any questions he may have.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I thank all the witnesses at the table for their testimony this morning. This is really a very interesting area, and I remember 6 years ago when we went through this exercise, and, unfortunately, we haven't moved any closer to resolving this issue.
The folks from the FAAwhoever wishes to answer the questiona number of people have said to me, and I wonder, myself, has the FAA ever taken into consideration putting in a safety feature and factoring in moving people from airplanes to automobiles because of the additional cost?
I wonder and they wonder, is this a unique aspect of this particular study, as far as child safety seats are concerned?
Ms. GILLIGAN. There are two answers to that, sir.
The first answer is that, in our report to Congress, we were directed by Congress, as part of our analysis, to consider the issue of diversion to other modes of transportation.
Even without that direction, however, in this situation we would consider diversion because of the large amount of cost that this imposed on a familyup to $200 for a trip. We believe that would then result in diversion.
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The vast majority of other rules at the FAA do not impose that level of costnot even close. Most of them are cents additional because they are spread over a wider group of people.
So if we had a regulation comparable to this where there was such a large imposition of cost and likely diversion, we would consider it. It has just not happened in other regulations.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you. Has Congress ever directed you to consider diversion in regards to any other rulemaking?
Ms. GILLIGAN. Not to my knowledge, sir, although, again, we would, even without that direction, if we thought it was a relevant factor in our cost/benefit analysis.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Have your studies taken into consideration low-cost airlines? It seems to me that, in reality, most families that are going to be traveling with one child, two children, or more, would more likely be traveling on the low-cost airlines rather than on the major carriers who fly many more business passengers.
Ms. GILLIGAN. Yes, sir. The study did consider low-cost, low-fare airlines. We took the materialthe information comes from the Department of Transportation, and in the amount of information that we had, it included a composite which included low-fare airlines, so yes, we did take that into account, and we would actually agree with your conclusions that there is a likelihood that there is more price sensitivity for people who are flying on those types of aircraft.
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Mr. LIPINSKI. Has there been any discussions with the airlines, themselves, on trying to set upand I wish Congressman Geren was here, because this really was his ideasetting up an area of the plane, like we had in the old days for smokers, that would be for families with children, where a number of seats would be set aside for that purpose, thereby perhaps lowering the diversion, let us say? Has there been any kind of discussions or any kind of study done on the possibility of doing that?
Ms. GILLIGAN. We've had various discussions with the industry throughout the years that we've all been working on this issue. I don't recall that specific recommendation, but we have looked at or asked them to consider all kinds of options that might be able to encourage families to continue to fly and to use restraints without causing the diversion that the economic studies indicate might happen.
They have worked with us. We have not yet reached conclusion, but we will continue to work with them through this fall as we do our educational work and as we continue to try to encourage families to find ways to work with their carriers to use restraints.
Mr. LIPINSKI. I was just going to go into another suggestion that Mr. Geren had, but since he has returned I'm going to turn over the microphone to him.
Pete, what I was talking to them about was setting aside an area in the plane for families with small children. I was asking if they had ever discussed that with the aviation industry, and they said no, they had not, but they had discussed a number of other things and could very well discuss that.
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I was going to go into your suggestion of the harness, and so forth, so, Mr. Chairman, if I may, I'll yield the remainder of my time to Mr. Geren.
Mr. DUNCAN. Fine.
Mr. GEREN. Thank you. I appreciate the chance to discuss this issue with the panel.
I think you heard my exchange with Congressman Lightfoot in the previous panel, and I think that you all have made many important points as a committee we have to consider as we look for ways to address the safety concerns in the most practical and least expensive method.
I think we need to consider all the possible options. My thought about having some sort of soft harness that would fit around the childmaybe it's netting, or whatever, something that might be some sort of a full trunk of the baby, sort of suitleave their legs and arms freethat could be clipped to a seat belt.
And then Vern Ehlers raised the point that upon impact that the passenger that is just seat belted sandwiches, and that that perhaps represented a threat to the child in the lap.
I don't know how serious that is when you consider soft tissue of an abdomen against thighs. That's something that an expert would have to respond to.
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But a thought I had that would have addressed Mr. Ehlers' concern would be perhaps two or three rows of seats that also had a shoulder harness as well as a seat belt, and those would be seats for parents with very small children. And have this sort of lap harness that would clip into the seat belt, and perhaps even the shoulder harness, if that were appropriate, depending upon some safety expert deciding how you would want the force distributed against the harness of the child.
I thought that would be a less expensive way to do this. It also would be seats that, with the absence of children on the plane, could be still sold to the traveling public.
And then I joked with Mr. Lipinski that you could probably sell tickets at a premium if you are more than ten rows away from the baby section. I've been on a number of flights that I'm sure the folks sitting around my baby would have paid at least $50 to be sitting several rows away.
I just pose that as somethingask whether or not something along those lines has ever been considered.
And the point I made with Mr. Lightfoot, I think the parental instinct just has to be taken into consideration as we address this.
The rational response in turbulence or a threat is to leave your child in that car seat. But I think a parentthat parental instinct kicks in when there is a threat, and you want to put your body around that baby to protect that child from whatever.
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I think if there is any way to recognize what many parents will donot every parent will do it, and in many cases there wouldn't even be time to respond in that way, but when there was time, or particularly if there was turbulence, that parental instinct I think would cause some people to make some irrational decisions that would continuewould pose the safety threat to the child.
I'm just laying out those factors and that suggestion. I'm curious to hear your response to it.
Ms. GILLIGAN. If I may make a few comments, in our studies at CAMI we did test what is referred to as a ''belly belt,'' which is an apparatus that is permitted in the United Kingdom. It is not permitted in the United States. It is not approved by NHTSA for use in cars, either.
Our studies did show there that the force impacts of the parentsfirst let me explain, the apparatus is a connector to the parent belt so the child is belted in the parent lap, attached to the belt that's around the parents. Those studies did show that the impact of the parent over the top of the child was of such a crushing force that it did not provide the level of
Mr. GEREN. Sandwiching?
Ms. GILLIGAN. That's right. It did not provide the level of protection that we would want in a crash scenario when there was that kind of violence, in essence.
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I met not long ago, a month or so ago, with the consumer representatives from airlines to have this very discussion. What are some things we can be doing together to encourage their consumers to fly smarter? They raised the question about the use of a restraint in clear air turbulence as you kind of describe. It's what most parents call a ''snuggly,'' the kind of thing that you hold your child in.
Quite honestly, in en route flight in clear air turbulence, we would not disagree with thatthat there is value in a parent holding the child in that case. What we are primarily focusing on, though, are the forces at the point of crashmore likely to occur on take-off and landing, our data shows, and in those scenarios, although it would oftentimes be the parental response to want to hold the child, in fact, the dynamics of that scenario cause severe damage to an infant, and remarkably so when you see the tapes of the tests that we've done.
Mr. GEREN. Would a shoulder harness not address those concerns if you had seats that were strapped in like the pilots are strapped in?
Ms. GILLIGAN. I've not seen test work done by the FAA on shoulder harnesses in passenger row seats, so, I'm sorry, I don't have that data, but we can certainly look at our past data and get that back to you or have someone discuss with you those alternatives.
There are some alternatives, though, in terms of your idea about restricting an area. We've not had that particular discussion, but we do have rules that first of all make clear that parents may use, can use, certificated, properly-approved restraints, and we have encouraged the use, and many airlines do permit the use of an empty available seat if a parent brings their own restraint, so we have made some forward motion in encouraging additional use of restraints if there is space available on the aircraft.
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Mr. GEREN. I guess that misses my point a little bit. I wasn't talking about setting aside an area for any reason other than that area would have the shoulder harnesses, as well.
Ms. GILLIGAN. Yes.
Mr. GEREN. And the incidental benefit would be that you would concentrate children in one area, and so whatever benefits associated with that.
The point is that your studies apparently confirm what Mr. Ehlers was concerned about. It would seem to me that the shoulder harnesses would address that concern. That's the point I guess I would like to have addressed, because what you call the ''belly belt'' or some sort of ''snuggly'' that clips into shoulder harnesses, as well as the seat belt, you wouldn't have to worry about the parent crushing the child, and it would have the additional benefit it wouldn't cost $119 million a year to implement, and I just think it would be worth exploring.
Ms. GILLIGAN. If you would, let me go back to talk to some of our experts to see how far we've gotten in considering those kinds of alternatives, and we'll get back to you or your staff.
Mr. GEREN. All right. Thank you.
Ms. GILLIGAN. Thank you.
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[The information received follows:]
Mr. GEREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Geren.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
How many people were surveyed in conducting this study? How many passengers were surveyed? What was the size of the sample?
Ms. MAILLETT. I assume you're talking about the report to Congress and the economic analysis?
Mr. DEFAZIO. Yes.
Ms. MAILLETT. Yes. As we state in there, we did several types of outreach. The first thing that we did was issue a ''Federal Register'' notice
Mr. DEFAZIO. No. How many passengers were actually surveyed as in
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Ms. MAILLETT. There were no passengers surveyed for this report to Congress.
Mr. DEFAZIO. No passengers were surveyed? So we know how they're going to perform, but we didn't ask any of them?
Ms. MAILLETT. We looked at a wide range of research that has already been performed.
Mr. DEFAZIO. You looked at research, which is econometric data which has to do with estimated price elasticity of ticketing, which has nothing to do with parents and their care for their children or any of that. You didn't survey anybody. Why didn't you do a survey? It would have been a lot cheaper to do a survey. Why didn'tI mean, you can do a great survey. I've done a lot of them. I just ran for the Senate last year. We can do a nice survey for $15,000 or $20,000, which I think would have more reliability.
I studied economics. There is no reliability to any of this. This is a lot of gobbledegook. That's what it is.
You can smile and grin, but why don't you ask the people? You had people here who defied your little study just a couple of minutes ago. They spent the extra money instead of spending 4 days on the road driving.
Well, I guess, according to this study, actually the people going the long distances, some percentage of them apparently have an infinite amount of time and 28 percent of them would foregono, 78 percent would forego and 21 percent would go by automobile greater than 500 miles. How many people have that much time? This doesn't have anything to do with the reality of people's lives or how much they care about their kids.
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Why don't we do a survey? Do you have $50,000 to do a nice 2,000-sample survey? Can you find that? How much did the study cost?
Ms. MAILLETT. The study cost $190,000, sir.
Mr. DEFAZIO. $190,000? So we could, for half that price, come up with something that actually surveyed people who actually fly who actually have children and find out what they might actually do.
Why would you consider a survey less reliable than this so-called ''econometric study''?
Ms. MAILLETT. I'm not arguing that a survey would not be a viable approach. I am saying, however, that, indeed, there is significant research in this area and we also had a panel, as indicated in the appendix, that did talk about the elasticity and what would families do.
That is not a survey. It certainly does not answer your question with a ''yes,'' but it does indicate that we did try to reach out beyond the existing research analysis that was out there.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Right, but there are divergent expert economic opinions here, and everybody, all told, has probably spent hundreds of thousands or a million dollars on studying, restudying, refuting, certifying this, and it seems to me that the best way to answer many of the imponderables here would be to do an actual survey of people who actually fly.
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I get on the plane. A couple of times a year they hand me a customer satisfaction survey. It wouldn't even have to be a real scientific analysis where you did a randomized study. There are ways you could do it. It wouldn't be very expensive. I'm sure the airlines would be happy to cooperate. It wouldn't cost much at all then. You'd have to just plug in the data. People can fill it out while they sit there in their seats.
It is just extraordinary to me that we're having this argument over something that I think is counter-intuitive and stupid.
We're agreeing that 80 percentwe're 80 percent in agreement. You're saying, ''Yes, kids are safer in certified seats, but we feel that 20 percent of the people would get in their cars and drive and the kids would be harmed potentially.''
Well, you can make another argument. Did we take into account the fact that on the long-distance flyers, 78 percent would forego traveling? Was that taken into account in terms of the injuries? So that would be a desirable effect, right? Or are kids less safe in their homes, statistically, so they would actually be safer on airplanes than they would be in their homes. I assume that's probably a finding of the study, right?
Ms. MAILLETT. We did not look at the safety in the home. We compared the automobiles, the travel from the automobiles.
Mr. DEFAZIO. But 78 percent wouldn't travel.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MAILLETT. Correct.
Mr. DEFAZIO. So if 78 percent wouldn't travel, what happenedwhat assumptions did we make about those 78 percent?
Ms. MAILLETT. The fatality in the automobile is so significantly higher than aviation, which is the safest way of transportation, that that is what brings the significant
Mr. DEFAZIO. But what statisticsyou're using overall statistics for fatality. Are you using fatality for children in restraints in new cars with air bags, or are you usingsince all 50 States have child restraint laws, are we using a model which assumes some degree of non-compliance? Are we using a model that assumes non-compliance older cars, because these are the same people who chose not to fly because it would cost a little more, so they must drive older cars?
It just goes on and on and on and on.
Again, we could get to the point a lot better if we did a survey of real human beings who actually have children, who actually fly or thought about flying, and find out what they did or didn't do.
Ms. MAILLETT. On your restraint question concerning how we figured out fatalities, we worked with the NTSB to figure out what would be the right way of doing it for the aviation
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Mr. DEFAZIO. But they disagree with your conclusions.
Ms. MAILLETT. fatalities, and we worked with NHTSA to make sure that we had exactly the type of variables that you're talking about for purposes of fatalities and
Mr. DEFAZIO. But didn't the NTSB disagree with your conclusions?
Ms. MAILLETT. Not on the issue of fatalities, sir.
Mr. DEFAZIO. They disagreed on the issue of whether or not you should require child safety seats on airplanes?
Ms. MAILLETT. They certainly
Mr. DEFAZIO. So are they totally calloused and they don't care about that 20 percent, or maybe they think it's a Bozo study?
Ms. MAILLETT. I can't believe that anybody in this room or who is going to testify here today is calloused. I think that everybody here
Mr. DEFAZIO. Well, then, I think that what we're confronted with here is an argument we've been having before this committee for years and before the Congress for years, and it seems to me that the common sense thing to do is to get a little bit better of a handle on this and to go out and do a survey.
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That's my contribution to this panel.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. DeFazio.
Mr. MENENDEZ. No questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Let me ask you this: how many children are there under two flying now, typically, out of 1,000 passengers or 100 passengers or what ever amount? What are we talking about?
Ms. GILLIGAN. The study estimated five million infant passengers enplanements a year. I don't know that we broke it down per operation, per se.
Mr. DUNCAN. So that would be a little less than 1 percent, then?
Ms. MAILLETT. Exactly. It's about two million round trips per year, and there are about 500 million enplanements, so it's about 1 percent. It has been constant since we started looking at this back in 1990.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. And we have some information before us that says that this one study said that it would cost families $252 million annually and it would cost the airlines $520 million annually, but those are 1990 figures. Are those still roughly accurate today, would you say?
Ms. MAILLETT. Actually, sir, they've gone up. Our scenariosit depends on which scenario you wish to choose, but if you would assume that it is a full fare, we are talking about almost $1 billion of cost to the air carriers and over $800 million to the families, so it's a substantial cost. That's assuming 100 percent fare for that extra seat. It is less if they have less of a cost for that seat for the child, but it is still a very substantial cost.
Mr. DUNCAN. Are there any other countries that require child safety seats on their airplanes?
Ms. MAILLETT. Not to our knowledge, sir.
Mr. DUNCAN. Have any other countries experimented with it or studied it or tried it, or has it just not been an issue? Do other countries allow children under two to fly on the laps of their parents?
Ms. GILLIGAN. The Canadians are quite active in studying this issue, as well, and, as I mentioned, for example, in the United Kingdom they permit the use of a restraint that we do not approve, nor does NHTSA approve for automobile use.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So there are varying activities related to this issue, but it is an issue that I think all of the authorities are looking at closely to be sure that we are doing all that we can to provide the appropriate level of safety to the smallest passengers.
Mr. DUNCAN. On most of our major crashes, there are no survivorslike in the ValuJet situation and the TWA crash and some of these others, so the child safety seats wouldn't make any difference in those situations. Do you think that these instances that Mr. Sweedler has mentioned are just horrendous flukes?
Ms. GILLIGAN. There are cases of survivable crashes where lap-held children have not survived, and the Board's work has shown they would have survived if they had been properly restrained.
The data from our study shows that there were nine lap-held children who, over a course of 10 years, died as a result of crash. Five of those children might have been protected in a properly-certificated restraint, and it is that five projected into the future that is actually the benefit we see of a regulatory requirement to have children required to be restrained, so there are five deaths that we have been able to identify where a child restraint would have made a difference.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Sweedler, did you have something you wanted to add?
Mr. SWEEDLER. Just a comment, Mr. Chairman, that there are more survivable air carrier accidents than there are non-survivable, so the use of these seats would come into play in those situationsthe end-of-runway type of things, take-off accidents.
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Also, we think the seats are necessary in turbulence situations. We've seen quite a few problems in those types of situations.
Mr. DUNCAN. Where do you standwhere does NTSB stand in regard to seats on trains and buses and so forth?
Mr. SWEEDLER. The only position we've taken concerning mandatory use of seat belts is in automobiles, passenger vehicles. We have not taken any position or seen the need to recommend the requirements for seat belt use on trains or buses.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much. This has been a very informative panel and we appreciate your testimony. We'll move on to the
Mr. GEREN. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Geren?
Mr. GEREN. Can I ask a question to NTSB?
Mr. DUNCAN. Sure. Go right ahead.
Mr. GEREN. Regardless of how one reacheswhat conclusion one reaches, I think this process is working as it should. NTSB makes a safety recommendation, and FAA takes into consideration other factors. I won't argue whether or not the study is a good one or a bad one. But let me just pose to you, Mr. Sweedler, a question.
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Assuming there is no diversion, all five million enplanements continue, nobody goes to cars, it's going to cost the traveling public somewhere between $100 million and $1 billion, assuming we have to make some assumptions on when airlines are going to give them discount fares or let them fly free if it's off-peak, or whatever, but it's going to be a significant dollar amount to the traveling public. I think that's a given. So somewhere between $100 million and $1 billion, assuming there are occasions when people pay a fare.
If you had a magic wand and could apply that half a billion dollars to your top-priority safety concerns, would this be how you spent the money, or might you consider spending it on detectors that would identify chemical explosives, or whatever? And that's what our committee has to decide.
We are going to reallocate how the traveling public's money is spent. Would we save more children's lives with chemical weapons detectors that kept plastic explosives from going on an airplane with that $500 million, or would we save more children's lives by mandating that that $500 million be spent on child safety seats?
Mr. SWEEDLER. That's a tough question, sir. First of all, we're not quite sure how much the cost would be to families and how the airlines would respond if there was a requirement. The cost might not be as high as some of the estimates.
Some of the other things to consider is that what we're actually asking for is just one extra step from what the FAA is actually doing.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The FAA certainly agrees with us, as does everyone else, that the children need to be restrained, and they are energetically going out and pushing this through educational programs.
So what we're saying, we think there shouldn't be an option for safety. What they think is the best thing for children and are advocating that, we think should be the requirement for all children.
Mr. GEREN. I understand that, but say five million enplanements. Say it only costs $20. That's $100 million. If you were given in NTSB $100 million to spend on safety priorities, where would you apply it?
Mr. SWEEDLER. It's the money that the passengers would be paying, to a great extent.
Mr. GEREN. Absolutely. And
Mr. SWEEDLER. You heard the testimony of the parents. They had to make a decision, and they were willing to spend $200. If it was only $20, I'm sure there wouldn't be that much debate.
Mr. GEREN. I'm sure the parents also would like to have detectors that spotted plastic explosives, and they alsothere are a lot of things. I'm just asking you, as the NTSB, when you all identify your safety priorities, if we gave you $100 million and you were entrusted with saving lives, where would you apply it, top priority?
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Mr. SWEEDLER. As I said, that's probably a very tough question to answer. We have quite a few issues that need addressing. There is a long list of safety issues that need addressing, and I think it's probably best for us to try to lay out what the issues are and try not to prioritize which safety issue is more important than other safety issues.
There are certain safety issues, like students on school buses, that are so emotional, even though the accident rates are extremely low, parents and people in the communities just demand whatever needs to be done to protect children is done, even though that accident rates are minuscule compared to other areas, and this seems to be one of those areas where it just seems to make common sense to go ahead and take that extra step.
Mr. GEREN. I appreciate that, and we're politicians, so we probably appreciate that as much as anybodyprobably more than anybodyand sometimes Government does not act rationally, but we are charged with apportioning how the traveling public's dollars are going to be spent, and if we are going to spend the money in a way that is going to save the most lives, bearing in mind there are political considerations and there are emotions and nobody on thisas Ms. Maillett said earlier, there is not a calloused person in this room. Everybody in this room wants to save children's lives. Will you save more children's lives by spending that $100 million to $500 million on chemical weapons detectors, or will you save more children's lives by spending that $500 million on safety seats?
I think that's a question we have to ask. We all want to save the most number of children's lives with the limited resources we have, and so I just pose that to the panel.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Geren, once again, for some very good points and questions.
All right. Thank you, ladies and gentleman, for this very helpful testimony.
We'll call up next panel number two. Panel two consists of: John M. Meenan, who is vice president of policy and planning for the Air Transport Association; Patricia A. Friend, who is the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, AFLCIO; Jan Brown-Lohr, who is a flight attendant for United Airlines and also represents the Association of Flight Attendants; and Mr. Thomas Bennington, who is president of CRSA Corporation.
Thank you very much for being with us. I'll do like I did on the last panel, and we'll have the witnesses testify in the order in which they are listed on the agenda of the hearing, and that means, Mr. Meenan, that you will go first.
TESTIMONY OF JOHN MEENAN, VICE PRESIDENT, POLICY AND PLANNING, AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA; PATRICIA A. FRIEND, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS, AFLCIO; JAN BROWN-LOHR, FLIGHT ATTENDANT, UNITED AIRLINES, AND MEMBER, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS, AFLCIO; AND THOMAS BENNINGTON, PRESIDENT, CRSA CORPORATION
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Mr. MEENAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. My name is John Meenan, and I'm vice president for policy and planning for the Air Transport Association of America.
Let me begin by again thanking the committee for holding today's hearing on the subject of use of infant seats aboard aircraft. This is an issue of vital interest to all of us, particularly those of us in the airline business. We all want everyone aboard our aircraft to fly safely, but we share a particular concern with the safety of our smallest and youngest passengers.
Candidly, we are frustrated at this point with the lack of resolution by the regulatory authorities of what has become a circular debate over how to best ensure that infants and small children are appropriately belted in during take-off, taxi, landing of an aircraft.
Let me explain briefly.
During the 1980s, the airlines began to raise concerns over the safety implications of Federal Air Regulation 121.311, which, is the regulation that allows lap-held children under the age of two. Those concerns culminated in February 1990 with an ATA Petition to the FAA which would have required that all passengers, including those under the age of two, be appropriately restrained.
Subsequently, the FAA performed the well-known risk/risk analysis of the proposal and concluded that such a regulation could well result in an increase in infant deaths due to diversion of travelers to other less-safe modes, including the highway mode.
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Although understandably controversial, it must be said that this type of systematic analysis of any regulatory action bears careful thought and attention if we are to avoid doing inadvertent harm. Frankly, the FAA's point is a very valid concern.
Later, while the ATA petition was still pending, additional facts began to emerge concerning the design adequacy of certain child restraint systems currently approved for use aboard aircraft.
In a nutshell, the Civil Aero-Medical Institute, CAMI, raised substantial concerns as to the effectiveness of many forward-facing devices due to variations in the device attachment points on aircraft versus automotive seats.
Almost simultaneously with the release of that information concerning the device effectiveness, the FAA approached the airlines to suggest that the best way to address the overall issue of the use of child restraints was through public education, and they hoped through carrier programs to promote the use of these devices.
While the carriers agree that public education and market-driven solutions are to be preferred to regulation, where possible, the carriers also believe that we need a logical and well-structured approach to these issues.
We told the FAA then, and we continue to believe, that three things must happen before we can move forward:
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First, the regulatory authorities must decide on the basis of size and weight which children actually require specialized restraint devices.
Second, we must have design standards for these restraint systems which are effective in all modes of transportation and can be interchangeably used across modes.
Third, we must take the steps necessary to phase in those appropriate devices in a seamless and organized fashion. Only when that occurs will we be in a position to move forward with either an education and promotion campaign to assure the appropriate use of these systems or to pursue some type of mandatory requirement.
At the request of the FAA, we withdrew our petition to require the use of these devices in May of last year. This was done in order to help clear away what were described as complications for the FAA in moving to resolve these issues. As we said at that time: ''We note that this action does not reflect a fundamental change in policy. The airlines remain absolutely committed to the safety of all passengers, including, if not especially, their youngest passengers. We are hopeful, however, that by withdrawing this petition in the context of the FAA's plan to address the key adequacy issue, real and rapid progress will result.
We look forward to working with the FAA, Congress, the flight attendants, and all interested parties in finding the correct solution to this matter.'' ''It is our expectation,'' we went on, ''that once the FAA has addressed the design adequacy issues, appropriate market-driven solutions will emerge to ensure that all traveling infants are appropriately seated and restrained. Obviously, should circumstances warrant, the airlines may opt to resubmit an updated petition.''
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Unfortunately, to date the design adequacy issues remain unresolved. DOT, FAA headquarters, the FAA technical center, CAMI, NHTSA, and the Society of Automotive Engineers all continue to chase bits and pieces of this problem, without anyone taking charge of finding a real solution.
To our knowledge, no one has mapped a course to really resolve all these matters on the device adequacy issue. Last week we learned, for example, of the new CAMI tests which were just performed on a platform device to be placed under the infant seat. We hope that is a positive sign, but the timing and the test procedures obviously leave many unanswered questions.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I would summarize our position as follows:
We believe that all passengers, including children, should be appropriately restrained.
We believe that the FAA's risk analysis, which raises substantial concerns about broader child safety issues, and the CAMI test results, which question the design integrity of certain devices, must be considered and resolved.
We believe that with the proper resolution of the device adequacy issue, market-driven solutions would likely provide the most effective means to address the FAA's risk analysis issues. At the same time, we recognize the possible role for mandatory action if it is ultimately determined that market forces do not produce optimum results.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear here. I would, of course, be happy to respond to questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Meenan.
The next witness will be Ms. Friend.
Ms. FRIEND. Chairman Duncan, Mr. Lipinski, members of the subcommittee, my name is Patricia Friend. I'm the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, AFLCIO.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify on the issue of mandating aircraft child restraint seats for children under the age of two.
AFA has long supported appropriate seat restraint devices for all passengers, including infants and small children. We commend Congressman Lightfoot for his tireless fight through the years to assure that children are protected when they fly, and for reintroducing H.R. 1309.
Flight attendants are recognized by the Government and by the public as safety professionals. We are the passengers' link to safety in the airplane cabin. We believe that everyone who flies deserves the highest possible level of safety.
Today our most vulnerable travelers, little children under two, have virtually no protection. Every day hundreds of small children fly without a seat of their own and without a secure means of restraint. Flying unrestrained, these little children and infants are at risk of injury and even death during turbulence or a crash.
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The NTSB, aviation industry groups, consumer groups, and transportation unions have all appealed to the FAA to issue regulations to require the use of restraint seats for children under two. To date, the FAA has refused to do so.
AFA has worked for years to correct this safety oversight. In 1983, we supported a petition for rulemaking on infant restraint devices by the Aviation Consumer Action Project. The FAA did not respond.
Following the 1989 United Airlines crash in Sioux City in which another lap child was killed, AFA again urged the FAA to respond to the petition. According to an FAA spokesperson at that time, there haven't been enough infants killed on airlines to justify changing the law.
In March 1990, the FAA finally issued proposed and final rules that included language on child restraint seats but did not mandate the use of the seats.
Recently, the FAA has argued from a position based on an inaccurate economic analysis of tribal patterns. The FAA contends the use of child restraint seats will cause more travelers to be injured or killed because more travelers would drive on the Nation's highways than would fly.
Under the guise of economic hardship, the FAA sees a public flocking to the highways for an inexpensive way to travel. The FAA's position is based on a study by Apogee Research which points out that statistically travelers are more likely to be injured in an automobile than in an airplane.
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In 1995, AFA commissioned our own study to look more closely into this assertion. Our study refutes the findings of the Apogee study. Our study shows that the assumptions used in the study cited by the FAA are unrealistic and have little or no relation to the aviation industry as it now exists.
The FAA study fails to take into account that a new generation of low-cost air travel has developed to compete directly with the automobile.
Today's families are consistently making the choice to fly rather than to drive, and the airlines are responding to that demand for low-cost alternatives to the automobile. By maintaining lower fares, these carriers are attracting families to air travel, not diverting them to the roads.
AFA also found that the Apogee study was inherently flawed in its economic analysis. The correct measure to use when evaluating whether people would drive in the face of higher airline fares is cross-elasticity of demand. The FAA, in its analysis, did not use cross-elasticity, but own price elasticity.
Cross-elasticity measures what happens to sales of one product when the price of a substitute good like airplanes or cars changes. Cross-elasticity measures how many people would drive if the price of an airline ticket changed. Own price elasticity of demand measures how many people would stop flying if airline ticket prices increased.
You simply cannot make any inference of what people will do other than not to fly when using own price elasticity.
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Another line of reasoning used by the FAA to oppose mandating child restraint seats is that some of the seats are not acceptable for use. In studies on airline crashes conducted over the last 4 years, the Civil Aero-medical Institute has identified four forward-facing child restraint seats that do perform well. Furthermore, all rear-facing seats for children under 20 pounds performed well in CAMI's test.
While we are pleased that the FAA's study into the design and use of child restraint seats is ongoing, even the FAA agrees being restrained is the only safe way for little children to fly.
Further evidence of FAA's continued failure to correct this safety concern for our youngest travelers is its recent rule on the use of backless booster seats, harnesses, and vests aboard all U.S. carriers.
In early June of this year the FAA issued a final rule on these devices. In CAMI's 1993 study, it found that these devices exposed children to the potential of serious injury. Despite this information, it took the FAA 3 years to issue a final rule. Unfortunately, the agency did not totally ban the devices. Although clearly a hazard, the FAA only withdrew its approval for use of these devices during take-off, landing, and movement on the ground.
Every day flight attendants are faced with the dilemma of children over 2 years of age sitting on their parent's lap. Although this is a clear violation of current Federal regulations, we find carriers looking the other way to avoid a conflict with passengers. In some cases, the objective in looking the other way is making another seat available to sell.
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Representative Lightfoot's bill would require the use of child safety restraint seats for these children. It is a simple bill that will save children from injuries and death.
AFA's message on this bill is clear and straightforward: there is a safe way for little children to fly and there is an unsafe way. The safe way is to be restrained and protected in an approved child restraint seat.
We urge this committee and Congress to move H.R. 1309 forward in order to protect all aviation travelers.
I will be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Ms. Friend.
Ms. BROWN-LOHR. My name is Jan Brown-Lohr. I have been a flight attendant with United Airlines and a member of the Association of Flight Attendants for 20 years. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for allowing me to speak about my personal experience.
I was the chief flight attendant in the Sioux City, Iowa, DC10 accident on July 19, 1989. A flight attendant's primary responsibility is passenger safety, and on that day I came to the full realization that passenger safety only applies to those over the age of 2 years old.
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It was a golden July day when disaster struck. The number two engine exploded, severing all hydraulic lines and leaving the pilots with only the number one and number three wing engines to maneuver the airplane. I have never known such terror.
We had 40 minutes to clear the snack service, secure the cabin, and then, according to procedures, we prepared the passengers for the emergency landing.
As we waited for the brace signal from the cockpit, I mentally reviewed if everything had been covered and remembered that we had several lap children. I picked up the microphone again and instructed those parents to place their children on the floor, which would give some advance time to brace themselves, as well as their children.
What I had been taught in flight attendant emergency training class now became senseless in reality. I could hardly believe I was giving these absurd instructions, but that was all we had.
What followed has been viewed countless timesan unbelievable impact that mere words could never adequately describethe plane breaking into three sections, being engulfed in a flash fire, and my section finally stopping upside down in a corn field.
I was finally forced to leave the wreckage due to prohibitive and deadly smoke. The first person I encountered was a mother of a 22-month-old boythe same mother I had comforted and reassured right after the engine exploded. She was trying to return to the burning wreckage to find him, and I blocked her path, telling her she could not return. And when she insisted, I told her that helpers would find him.
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Sylvia Tsao then looked up at me and said, ''You told me to put my baby on the floor, and I did, and he's gone.'' My first thought was, ''I'll have to live with this for the rest of my life.'' I then replied, ''That was the best thing to do.'' That was all we had. Evan was killed.
According to FAA regulations, we flight attendants must ensure that all carry-on bags are properly stored before the airplane door is closed, that all galley supplies are secured, and that all passengers 2 years old and older are wearing a seat belt for take-off, landing, and during flight when the captain deems it necessary. Even on-board pets are required to be safe and secured in pet carriers placed under a seat.
In addition, flight attendants are required to be harnessed in their side jump seats for taxi, take-off, landing, and during heavy turbulence.
U.S. laws across the country require young infants and children to be in car seats, yet, on planes traveling 500 miles an hour children under 2 years of age are allowed to fly free, with a potential to fly free through the cabin.
According to tests done at the FAA facility in Oklahoma City, the child's weight can multiply up to five times its normal weight in moderate to severe turbulencefar more in a crash. A 20-pound baby suddenly becomes 100 pounds, and not all the love in the world can hold him/her.
A plane traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago dropped 6,000 feet and two lap infants were wrenched from their parents' arms and hurled through the cabin. One infant was found underneath the pile of garment bags, which had fallen from the elevated closet. The flight attendant who witnessed this told me that at first it was feared the infant was under a liquor cart which had flown up into the air and landed upside down. Both infants were hospitalized. Sadly, only deaths, not injuries, are currently documented.
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Last week, as we sat at the end of the runway awaiting take-off, I saw an overhead bin pop open, and as I went to close it, I saw a young mother holding her tiny infant with the seat belt around the two of them. I quietly told her this could crush the baby and she must put the seat belt around herself and hold the baby in her lap.
The anguish in her eyes could only mirror mine as she said, if anything happened, her baby would likely fly off her lap.
Six years ago, when I addressed this subcommittee on the same issue, Lori Michaelson also testified. Lori, her husband, Mark, their 11-month-old daughter, Sabrina, and their two older sons were aboard that flight 232 in July 1989.
In her testimony, Lori recalled her distress when one of my colleagues told her to place Sabrina on the floor for our emergency preparation. She said, ''I can still remember the look in that flight attendants eyes as we both knew this baby had a slim chance of surviving a crash landing. Picture me, a person only five feet, three inches tall, trying to bend over to reach the floor to hold on to my baby'' a task that was almost physically impossible.
I ask all of you members of the audience, take a moment today and try to bend down and hold an object on the floor at your feet. Feel the anxiety, tension, and fear in the airplane cabin. Imagine you looking down at your most precious possession, your child, who is at the mercy of whatever lays ahead, and you are frantically praying for safety.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On impact, Sabrina flew through the cabin, landed in an overhead storage bin, and was rescued by a heroic passenger who re-entered the fiery wreckage when he heard her tiny cries.
What baby body count will force safety for vulnerable little people? Which parents will make the sacrifice of their infant's injury or death? And which official who opposes child restraints will explain to that grieving parent statistics on cost and highway hazards?
I will not allow Evan to be forgotten, nor his message that small children deserve the same measure of safety which every other passenger enjoys. We flight attendants will be relentless in the pursuit of infant safety on airplanes.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you today.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Ms. Brown-Lohr.
Mr. BENNINGTON. My name is Tom Bennington, and thank you again for the opportunity to speak here.
I'm offering a child restraint system for aircraft that will work in three positions. The sample is over there on the table. One is in a passenger seat aft facing for infants 20 pounds and less. Another position is forward facing for infants 20 to 40 pounds. And then, if the airplane is full, it goes on the floor and it fastens into the seat tracks and doesn't take up a full-fare seat.
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Let me give you a brief history of this project.
Back in 1990, I was up here in Washington and read the Congressional record, saw Lightfoot's bill, agreed with it completely, and that's what motivated me to make this seat. I thought we needed to create a solution that wouldn't take up a full-fare passenger seat.
I was an Eastern Airlines pilot and now I'm still a 727 captain. I'm director of evaluation and compliance with Prestige Airways. We're in Smyrna, Tennessee. I deal with this issue all the time.
It was obvious to me back in 1990, and it still is today, that two things have to occur to solve this child restraint problem. One is that traveling parents should not have to purchase a ticket at all for their infants. Two, airlines should not have to block seats for the infants.
My project here has been ongoing since 1990. It has been a project with the New York Aircraft Certification Office. Each child restraint system that we make will be made for a specific type airplane and seat combination, and a supplemental type certificate will have to be issued for each seat that we make.
The first STC will be for a 727-200 type airplane with the Weber brand seat. The second one that we'll be making will be for a 737-300 with a Weber brand seat.
One earlier version of this seat was tested under the motor vehicle 213 rules. The latest version of this seat will be scheduled for completion in September 1996, and we'll do the 213 testing on that seat, also. And after we finish the 213 testing, then we'll do more testing using aircraft floors and aircraft rows of seats, either out at FAA, CAMI, and Oklahoma City, or at a private testing facility.
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The key concerns right now to this project that the FAA has brought up are the kicking of the infants during deceleration and how the seat will perform when loose objections like purses and shoes are flying across the floors.
This seat is made to normally be stored in the overhead bin and out of site when it is not in use. When the flight attendants would need this, they would take it out of the overhead bin and snap it into the airplane floor seat tracks, or, if a seat is available, it will also go in the airplane seat.
Considerable attention has been given to the seat in making it easy to remove and install in the seats and on the floor. We have a quick connect knob that snaps it into the seat tracks that works very well.
The FAA has told me that this will only be approved for use in a window seat. They will not be permitted in a middle or an aisle seat. They won't be permitted in an emergency exit row or any place else where they might impede evacuation.
The only modification to the aircraft will be having to modify an oxygen mask hose long enough to reach the infant on the floor. Otherwise, there is no change to the aircraft at all.
To date, three different airlines have been shown this seat. One is my own airline, and our owner feels it is important enough to go ahead and put them in our airplanes. One other airline has offered me a contract to use these seats once they are FAA approved.
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So far I have personally funded this project. I have been looking for a corporate sponsor. Nabisco has offered to come forward. The deal with them isn't done yet, but I think they will offer all the cash to get this thing to market and to finish up all the testing.
That's all I have. If you have any questions, I'll take them.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much, Mr. Bennington.
Thank you, panel, for some very impressive testimony.
Mr. GEREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I share your expression of appreciation to the panel forcertainly Ms. Brown-Lohr, some very difficult testimony to give, I'm sure.
You all have heard discussion we've had in front of the earlier panels, and if Ms. Friend and Ms. Brown-Lohr could just offer your thoughts on a restraint that might involve seats set aside that would have shoulder straps as well as a seat belt, and then some sort of a child restraint that would affix to either the shoulder straps or the seat belt, or both.
There are many issues. The first panel talked about the threat of debris in the plane, and that's a threat that's difficult to address, certainly. But the issue of separation seems to me to be the one that we're most concerned about and all the threats associated with that.
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If you could respond with your thoughts on something that would offer that adequate restraint in the lap of the parent?
Ms. FRIEND. Based on the discussion that we've heard this morning, clearly you agree that it would have to be something that would have to test safe, but just some things that occurred to me as I was listening to the discussion was the idea of setting aside several seats that were specially designed for shoulder harnesses. I'm not sure whether or not, in considering that, you've taken everything into consideration.
Number one, in order for a shoulder harness to be effective, it has to be on a rigid seat. Not seats that would not be able to recline, number one.
It would also require, since currently any seat row provides only sufficient emergency oxygen for the number of occupants of that seat plus one complete restructuring. If we're going to concentrate into one part of the aircraft, a large number of seats where there are actually going to be two people in a seat, then the airline is going to have to completely restructure or redevelop the number of emergency oxygen masks that are available.
There is going to be some major retrofit here, and I don't have any idea what the cost is for this kind of retrofit.
Mr. GEREN. Time is limited. Certainly there is cost associated. Everything we're talking about has a very significant dollar cost associated with it, so that will be somethingthat's why we have the cost/benefit analysis and that's why we have an FAA, because they have to weigh the cost and the benefits of various proposals.
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I don't mean to cut Mr. Meenan off, but I'd like to hear Ms. Brown-Lohr, from her personal experience, and looking at it from inside.
Ms. BROWN-LOHR. Well, I'm hearing nothing but cost and what kind of restraint, and I think maybe we need to start right from the beginning and say that everybody should have a seat and a restraint, and then, once this is passed, then we can decide what kind of seat you're going to have.
I mean, there are certainly any number of seats and inventions out there. Many people have tried to contact me, and I just have to focus my energies on making sure that this passes, because my question as a flight attendant, is: how can I do my job? How can any of us do our job?
We can look at passengers in an emergency and say, ''All of you 2 years old and older who have a seat, this is what we're going to do. And for the rest of you, well, thank you for flying with us today.''
But I really think we need to start with saying that children under two are worth as much as children over two. What's the difference between a 23-month-old and a 25-month-old? And also to stop the fraud that's going on with people who see ''free'' and then suddenly decide that their 3- or 4-year-oldI had one that was almost 4 years old that was considered a lap child because the mother was not going to buy a seat. It makes such a dilemma for us, and I really feel we need to start with making sure that everybody's going to have a restraint. Then we can decide what kind of restraint it is going to be.
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Mr. GEREN. That's a very valid point, and I guess that's one of the issues that we are in the process of addressing. I guess I was looking to you, in your experience, to try toI think we ought to try to do it in a way that poses the most acceptable option on the traveling public.
The point I made earlier, I think their parental instinct in times of trouble often is going to be to try to clutch a child to your lap, to your breast, and push your body in between that child and whatever threat of harm there is. I know that that's my natural, parental instinct, and I think that's probably quite common. It's irrational, but it's just the way we react.
I'm trying to just offer, as we think through this, some options that perhaps reflect that response.
Ms. BROWN-LOHR. As a mother and now a grandmother, and just having visited my grandson, who was in a car seat, my children would not think of turning on the ignition without having that little 9-month-old boy in a car seat in the car. Even if he was crying and both his mother and myself would instinctively want to take him out, we would pull over to the side of the road before we'd do that.
But on the airplanes I have convinced many mothers who said, ''I'm going to hold my child on take-off,'' or ''I'm going to nurse them,'' and I said, ''You have a seat here. The child is much safer in a seat.''
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I don't think there has been one that I have told that they are safer in the seat that hasn't followed those instructions.
Mr. GEREN. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I simply want to say I appreciate the testimony of everyone. Ms. Brown-Lohr, you have some very good friends. I fly United back and forth between here and Chicago, and on the flight coming out this week and going back last week and coming out last week some flight attendants approached me in regards to this particular hearing and fully briefed me on all of it, so you have some very good friends and you've done an excellent job of lobbying with your fellow flight attendants.
I appreciate everyone's testimony. We have to close down this hearing because there are some Members who have other things to do, but, Mr. Bennington, when we're finished here I'd like to take a closer look at your seat over there.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Lipinski.
Certainly let me say I appreciate your testimony. We're going to take this issue very, very seriously. I can assure you of that.
I have to be at another hearing right away, and I apologize for that, but thank you very much for being with us.
That will conclude the hearing today.
[Whereupon, at 12:25 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]