On December 11, 2019 the Department of Transportation (DOT) opened public comments for a proposed amendment to the Air Carrier Access Act, that would require accessible lavatories and on-board wheelchairs on single aisle aircraft that have 125 or more seats. Currently accessible lavatories are only required on wide body jets.
The accessible lavatory would have to have the following features:
- Toilet seat height between 17 and 19 inches
- Grab bars that can support up to 250 pounds
- Tactile temperature information on lavatory faucets
- Automatic faucets or faucets that will dispense water for a minimum of five seconds
- Accessible attendant call button
- Tactile information on lavatory controls
- Lavatory door wide enough for the on-board wheelchair
- Accessible door lock
- A visual barrier (curtain) for privacy if the passenger uses the on-board wheelchair
It’s important to note that this amendment does not require room for an attendant in the lavatory. Additionally airlines will not be required to retrofit aircraft. The regulation – if subsequently adopted by the DOT — will apply to new aircraft purchased three years from the publication date of the final regulation. It is estimated that 5% of narrow body aircraft will be in compliance in 2024, with 100% compliance not expected until 2048.
The airlines are expected to weigh in heavily on the public comments, and most likely will cite cost as the reason for not adopting this proposed rule.
To read the proposed rule or to make a public comment on it visit https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=DOT-OST-2019-0180
If you don’t speak up, this regulation could be altered or even completely tabled. Let your voice be heard. The public comment period will end March 2, 2020.