U.S. ACCESS BOARD PUBLISHES VOLUNTARY GUIDELINES FOR ONBOARD WHEELCHAIRS; SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT

On August 21, 2019, the U.S. Access Board, which is a U.S. federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities, released a set of advisory guidelines for wheelchairs used on commercial passenger aircraft.  The equipment at issue in the advisory guidelines are those onboard wheelchairs that are provided by air carriers to facilitate the transfer of passengers with disabilities to aircraft lavatories, as personal wheelchairs are not currently permitted to be used in the cabin. The stated purpose of the advisory guidelines is to “provide air carriers and onboard wheelchair manufacturers with technical assistance in meeting their obligations under the Air Carrier Access Act.”  While the guidelines are non-binding, they do specify dimensions, features, and capabilities for onboard wheelchairs that are being published to permit air carriers to transport passengers with disabilities in a safer, efficient, and more comfortable manner.

The Board has posed a number of questions to the public about specific provisions in the guidelines but welcomes input on all portions of the document, which are due on or before October 21, 2019.  Related information, is available in the Federal Register publication (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/20/2019-17873/advisory-guidelines-for-aircraft-onboard-wheelchairs). In addition, on September 12, 2019, the Board will hold a public hearing that will provide an opportunity to submit comments either in person or by phone.

If you have any questions about the advisory guidelines, or are interested in submitting a comment, please contact us.

If you have any questions, please contact Evelyn Sahr (esahr@eckertseamans.com or 202-659-6622); Drew Derco (dderco@eckertseamans.com or 202-659-6665), or Alexander Matthews (amatthews@eckertseamans.com or 202-659-6633).

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Authors

Evelyn D. Sahr

Member - Washington, D.C.

Drew M. Derco

Member - Washington, D.C.

Alexander E. Matthews

Associate - Washington, D.C.