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U.S. Department of Transportation Seeks Comment on Proposal to Improve the Accessibility of Lavatories on Single-Aisle Aircraft

Monday, December 16, 2019

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced that it is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to its Air Carrier Access Act regulation on the accessibility of lavatories on single-aisle aircraft. 

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Accessible Lavatories on Single-Aisle Aircraft can be found HERE and provides the public with 60 days to comment on the proposed changes. 

Today’s NPRM is intended to improve the accessibility of single-aisle aircraft as single-aisle aircraft with seating capacity of 125 or more seats are increasingly being used by airlines for long-haul flights.  At present, there is no requirement that airlines provide accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircraft.  The inability to use the lavatory on long flights can present significant challenges to passengers with disabilities, and poses a deterrent for some passengers with disabilities to travel by air. 

This NPRM would require airlines that operate new single-aisle aircraft with seating capacity of 125 or more seats to ensure the accessibility of features within the aircraft lavatory, including but not limited to toilet seats, assist handles, faucets, attendant call buttons, and door locks.  The NPRM would also require these airlines to include an on-board wheelchair meeting specific performance standards on such aircraft.  The performance standards are intended to improve the on-board wheelchair’s safety and maneuverability, and permit its entry into the aircraft lavatory. 

In addition, the NPRM includes training and information requirements that would apply to the airlines’ operations.  Airlines would be required to train flight attendants on proper procedures for providing assistance to individuals with disabilities to and from the lavatory from the aircraft seat, including hands-on training on the retrieval, assembly, stowage, and use of the aircraft’s on-board wheelchair, and training regarding the accessibility features of the lavatory.  To ensure that passengers with disabilities have accurate information about the types of accessibility features available on aircraft and can plan their flight appropriately, the NPRM proposes to require that airlines make information concerning the accessibility of aircraft lavatories available on the airline’s website, on the aircraft, and upon request to individuals with a disability. 

In the near future, the Department plans to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to solicit comment and gather information on the costs and benefits of requiring airlines to make lavatories on new single-aisle aircraft larger, equivalent to that currently found on twin-aisle aircraft.  This NPRM does not propose to increase the size of lavatories on single-aisle aircraft.

Comments on the NPRM must be received within 60 days of the date the notice being published in the Federal Register.  The NPRM can be found at regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2019-0180.

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