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Flight Attendants Urge NTSB to Keep Recommendation on Child Restraints

Date: February 26, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC -The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, will brief the National Transportation Safety Board today and push the Board to continue its recommendation advocating child safety seats be required for children under two onboard aircraft.

Currently, there is no requirement for children under two to be placed in a safety seat onboard an aircraft, in stark contrast to the laws adopted by all 50 states covering child restraints in vehicles. Although the NTSB does not have regulatory authority, the Board's safety recommendations are well respected in the aviation industry and will pressure the Federal Aviation Administration to keep this issue as a top priority.

"While we have made strides regarding protection of children in motor vehicles, the same cannot be said for aviation," said AFA's Director of Air, Safety, Health and Security Chris Witkowski. "To withdraw this recommendation means that the safety of aircraft passengers under two years of age is no longer a priority, and these children will not be afforded the same protections as others in the aircraft cabin."

Witkowski will appear along with Jan Lohr, a retired United Airlines flight attendant who was working onboard United Airlines flight 232 from Denver to Chicago on July 19, 1989. The aircraft broke into three pieces during an emergency landing and a 22-month old child, who did not have the benefit of a safety seat, died in the accident.

"Flight attendants are required to secure all items onboard an aircraft to comply with FAA regulations, including carry on baggage and coffee pots, but not infants and small children," Lohr said. "This is about the safety of our smallest, most defenseless passengers-and the safety of those around them. If the FAA and the airlines continue to allow children under two to be held on a parent's lap, many parents will continue to have the false impression that this practice is safe.

"When preparing the aircraft cabin for an emergency, flight attendants should not have to look a parent in the eye and instruct them to continue to hold a child on their lap when we know there is a very real possibility that child may not survive without proper restraints," Lohr said.

The full comments of Jan Lohr and Chris Witkowski can be obtained from the contact above.

More than 45,000 flight attendants join together to form AFA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000 member strong Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO.

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