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Study Initiated on Equipping Passenger Aircraft with Wheelchair Restraint Systems

January 13, 2020

The Access Board is undertaking a study that has the potential to advance access to air travel for passengers who use wheelchairs. As directed by Congress, this project will assess the feasibility of equipping passenger planes with restraint systems so that passengers can remain in their wheelchairs on flights. Having to transfer out of wheelchairs makes air travel very difficult, if not impossible, for many people with disabilities.

The Board is conducting this study through the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board (TRB). TRB has organized a committee of experts to evaluate the feasibility of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems. Members include experts in aircraft interiors and safety engineering, accessibility, wheelchair design and crash worthiness, airline operations, and other disciplines. Committee members will evaluate the design, engineering, and safety requirements for equipping aircraft with locking or tiedown mechanisms for non-motorized and motorized wheelchairs used as seats. If such restraint systems are found to be feasible, the committee will then assess the wheelchair restraint systems that can be used to accommodate passengers using wheelchairs through all phases of flight, from boarding to deplaning.

The committee will hold its first meeting February 5 – 6, 2020 at the Access Board’s conference center. Most sessions will be open to the public and available by web conference. Those attending in person do not need to register in advance, but registration is required (free) to attend online.

Visit TRB’s website for further information on this project, the meeting agenda, and the committee.

Questions about the study can be directed to Mario Damiani of the Access Board at, (202) 272-0050 (v), or (202) 272-0066 (TTY). Inquiries about attending the committee meeting or registering for the web conference should be addressed to Anusha Jayasinghe of TRB at or (202) 334-2401.

Committee on the Feasibility of Wheelchair Restraint Systems in Passenger Aircraft

  • Alan M. Jette [Chair], Emeritus Professor and Dean, Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University; Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences, Institute of Health Professions, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Naomi Armenta, Senior Associate in the Oakland, California office of Nelson Nygaard
  • Peter W. Axelson, Founder and Director of Research and Development of Beneficial Designs, Inc.
  • Rory A. Cooper, Associate Dean, Distinguished Professor, and FISA Foundation and Paralyzed Veterans of America Professor of Rehabilitation Engineering, School of Public Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh
  • Karen J. Erazo, retired Manager of Legal Affairs at Sun Country Airlines
  • Francis S. Heming, Jr., independent consultant specializing in the testing and certification of aircraft seating systems, including dynamic test planning, implementation, and witnessing.
  • Kevin L. Hiatt, specialist in the application of safety management systems in the transportation industry
  • Katharine M. Hunter-Zaworski, Associate Professor, School of Civil and Construction Engineering, Oregon State University
  • Auturo Jackson, Senior Director for Contracted, Paratransit, and Vanpool for METROLift, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas
  • George A. Lesieutre, Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
  • Miriam A. Manary, Lead Research Engineer, Biosciences Group, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
  • Clinton V. Oster, Jr., Professor Emeritus and former Associate Dean, Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University
  • Gary M. Weissel, Founder and Managing Officer of Tronos Aviation Consulting

Inaugural Meeting of the Committee

February 5 & 6, 2020 Open Sessions:

Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C.
Contact: Anusha Jayasinghe of TRB,, (202) 334-2401
Note: For the comfort of all participants and to promote a fragrance-free environment, attendees are requested not to use perfume, cologne, or other fragrances.

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