The Access Board sponsored a Study on the Feasibility of Wheelchair Restraint Systems in Passenger Aircraft in collaboration with the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a component of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The TRB conducted their study and issued their final report in mid-September 2021. The final report presents research findings on the Technical Feasibility of a Wheelchair Securement Concept for Airline Travel: A Preliminary Assessment (PDF, 6MB).
The Access Board hosted a virtual public briefing on TRB’s final report on September 22, 2021. Presenters included four members of the TRB Study Committee, including Chair Dr. Alan Jette. Members of the public were able to pose questions during the event. Slides from the public briefing are available in PowerPoint (2MB) and PDF (.5MB) formats. A recording (YouTube) from the live event is also available.
In the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, Congress directed the Access Board to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of equipping aircraft with securement systems so that passengers can remain in their wheelchairs on flights. In order to address the many complex technological and engineering questions involved with such a study, the Access Board enlisted the TRB, which has conducted extensive peer-reviewed studies on transportation-related issues.
To examine the design, engineering, and safety requirements for equipping aircraft with securement mechanisms for wheelchairs, TRB empaneled a study committee of experts in aircraft interiors and safety engineering, accessibility, wheelchair design and crashworthiness, airline operations, and other disciplines. The committee held numerous open and closed sessions throughout 2020 and 2021, which included presentations from: disability advocates, manufacturers (of aircraft, wheelchairs, and wheelchair securement systems), air carriers, and flight attendants.
Please visit TRB’s website for further information on this project. Question may also be directed to Mario Damiani of the Access Board at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Anusha Jayasinghe of TRB at email@example.com or 202-334-2401.
FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-254)
SEC. 432. STUDY ON IN-CABIN WHEELCHAIR RESTRAINT SYSTEMS. *
(a) STUDY. Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, aircraft manufacturers, air carriers, and disability advocates, shall conduct a study to determine:
(1) the feasibility of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems; and
(2) if feasible, the ways in which individuals with significant disabilities using wheelchairs, including power wheelchairs, can be accommodated with in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems.
(b) REPORT. Not later than 1 year after the initiation of the study under subsection (a), the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report on the findings of the study.*
* Also known as “wheelchair securement systems.”