The Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday it has approved the first harness-type child safety device for use on commercial airline flights.
The Cares device, produced by Phoenix-based AmSafe Aviation, involves a belt and shoulder harness that goes around the adult seat back and attaches to the adult passenger lap belt for improved upper torso restraint. It is designed for children weighing between 22 and 44 pounds but is not approved for use in motor vehicles.
Unlike hard-backed child safety seats approved for use in both airplanes and motor vehicles, the new device was designed and tested specifically for use in airplanes only.
The FAA's approval will allow consumers to buy these harnesses for use on airlines. Previously, the FAA had allowed only airlines to provide these types of additional child safety devices, but no U.S. airlines had been providing them, according to the agency. Approving the Cares device follows a July 14 FAA rule that allowed passengers to use FAA-approved airplane-specific harness-type devices that attach to the aircraft seat.
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The device provides upper torso restraint for young children who lack the upper body strength to brace themselves during turbulence or other incidents.
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The agency expects many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year.