DOT Seeks Public Comment on Accessible Airline Lavatories

Share

In an ongoing effort to make air travel more accessible, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is seeking public comments on Part 2 of the proposed rule to require accessible lavatories on certain single aisle commercial aircraft.

The rule would require single aisle aircraft with 125 or more seats to include an accessible lavatory that would allow a passenger in an onboard wheelchair  and an assistant to enter and maneuver in it. Currently only wide body (two aisle) aircraft are required to have this feature.

That said there are height and weight parameters for the passenger and the attendant. They both must be equivalent in size to a 95th percentile male. According to SAE International a 95th percentile male is 6 foot 1 inches tall and weighs 227 pounds; so people larger than that would not be required to be accommodated under the proposed regulations.

The accessible lavatory would be required to have the following features:

  • Grab Bars
  • Accessible Faucets
  • Accessible Attendant Call Button
  • Accessible Door Lock
  • Accessible Lavatory Controls
  • Accessible Lavatory Door
  • Adequate Toe Clearance

The proposed rule would apply to new aircraft ordered 18 years after the effective date of the final rule, or delivered 20 years after the effective date of the final rule. Existing aircraft would not need to be retrofitted to include an accessible lavatory.

To put that into perspective, if the final rule was enacted this year (and keep in mind the DOT has been working on this since 2016) it would be effective on aircraft ordered in 2040 or delivered in 2042.

That’s a long time to wait for an accessible lavatory.

Furthermore, since the usual life of a commercial aircraft is 25 years, then only 4 percent of aircraft would be replaced annually. Taking this assumption and the proposed implementation dates into account, it would take approximately 25 years for one-quarter of the qualifying aircraft to be outfitted with accessible lavatories. It would take 30 years for half of the qualifying aircraft, and 45 years for all qualifying aircraft to have these added access features. These figures are from the DOT.

I will be 109 when all single aisle aircraft with more than 125 seats are required to have accessible lavatories under this rule. How old will you be?

So if any of this bothers you, or will have an adverse effect on you, the DOT wants to hear from you. They also want to hear from people who have to dehydrate themselves to travel because of the unavailability of accessible lavatories on certain aircraft. Additionally if you don’t fly because of the unavailability of accessible lavatories on single aisle aircraft, let them know about that too.

Filing a public comment is easy. Just go to https://www.regulations.gov/document/DOT-OST-2021-0137-0003 and click on “comment”.

And if you don’t know what to write, try something like, “If this rule is adopted as written, I will be (insert age) when 100% of single aisle aircraft with over 125 seats will have accessible lavatories. I can’t wait that long”.

Comments are open until May 27, 2022 so let your voice be heard. If you can’t travel because the lack of accessible on-board lavatories, now is the time to speak up.

 

Share