Advisory Circular (AC) No. 700-014

From Transport Canada

Passenger Seating Requirements and Accessible Air Transportation

Issuing Office: Standards    
Activity Area: Qualifying Document No.: AC 700-014
File No.: A 5500-2-3 U Issue No.: 01
RDIMS No.: 4738308-V11 Effective Date: 2009-08-21

1.0  INTRODUCTION

This Advisory Circular (AC) is provided for information and guidance purposes. It may describe an example of an acceptable means, but not the only means, of demonstrating compliance with regulations and standards. This AC on its own does not change, create, amend or permit deviations from regulatory requirements, nor does it establish minimum standards.

1.1  Purpose

  1. The purpose of this AC is to provide guidance to air operators regarding the transportation of passengers with disabilities, carriage of service animals, and restrictions on exit row seating.

  2. It is also intended to provide air operators with updated contact information in order to obtain the “Smart Seating” video, which clarifies the seating regulations for passengers with special needs.

1.2  Applicability

  1. The section that refers to emergency exit seats is applicable to air operators conducting operations pursuant to Subpart 703, 704 and 705 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs).

  2. The sections that refer to the transportation of passengers with disabilities and the carriage of service animals are applicable to air operators operating aircraft of 30 or more passenger seats.

1.3  Description of Changes

This document replaces the documents listed in Section 2.2 of this AC entitled Cancelled Documents.

2.0  REFERENCES AND REQUIREMENTS

2.1  Reference Documents

It is intended that the following reference materials be used in conjunction with this document:

  1. Aeronautics Act;

  2. Part VII Subpart 03 of the CARs—Air Taxi Operations;

  3. Part VII Subpart 04 of the CARs—Commuter Operations;

  4. Part VII Subpart 05 of the CARs—Airline Operations;

  5. Advisory Circular (AC) 700-012, Issue 01, 2009-03-16—Passenger Safety Briefings;

  6. Transport Canada Publication (TP) 12295, Revision 3, 2000-01-31—Flight Attendant Manual Standard;

  7. TP 12296, Edition 2, 2008-04-01—Flight Attendant Training standard;

  8. Part VII of the Air Transportation Regulations (ATR)—Terms and Conditions of Carriage of Persons with Disabilities;

  9. Canada Transportation Act—Personnel Training for the Assistance of Persons with Disabilities Regulations;

  10. Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) Code of Practice, 2008-07-23—Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities;

  11. CTA —Take Charge of Your Travel: A Guide for Persons with Disabilities;

  12. Flight Safety Foundation, Cabin Crew Safety, Vol 40, No. 2, March-April 2005— Guidelines Enable Service Animals to Travel Safely at a Passenger’s Seat;

  13. New Horizons, U.S Department of Transportation, February 2004—Information for the Air Traveler with a Disability;

  14. U.S. Department of Transportation, 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 382—Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel.

2.2  Cancelled Documents

As of the effective date of this document, the following documents are cancelled:

  1. Commercial and Business Aviation Advisory Circular (CBAAC) 0181R, 2006-06-09—Passenger Seating Requirements;

  2. CBAAC 0121,1997-05-15—The Carriage of Service Animals in Canadian Commercial Airline Operations; and

  3. Transport Canada Guideline, 1984—Carriage of Non-Ambulatory Passengers on Large Turbo-Jet Aeroplanes.

2.3  Definitions and Abbreviations

The following definitions and abbreviations are used in this document:

  1. Air Carrier: Any person who operates a domestic service or an international service.

  2. Air Operator: The holder of an air operator certificate.

  3. Air Operator Certificate: A certificate issued under Part VII that authorizes the holder of the certificate to operate a commercial air service.

  4. ATR: Air Transportation Regulations.

  5. CARs: Canadian Aviation Regulations.

  6. CBAAC: Commercial and Business Aviation Advisory Circular.

  7. CFR: Code of Federal Regulations.

  8. COB: Carry-on baggage.

  9. CTA: Canadian Transportation Agency.

  10. Service Animal: An animal that is required by a person with a disability for assistance and is certified, in writing, as having been trained to assist a person with a disability by a professional service animal institution. A service animal is sometimes referred to as an "assistance animal". The majority of service animals are dogs; however, in some cases other animals, for example monkeys, have been trained to provide services for persons with a disability.

  11. TCCA: Transport Canada Civil Aviation.

3.0  BACKGROUND

  1. Both air operators and the travelling public have expressed concerns about how to make air travel as accessible as possible for passengers with disabilities, while respecting necessary measures to protect the collective safety of all passengers and crew members.

  2. Sections 703.38, 704.33, and 705.40 of the CARs require that air operators establish procedures to ensure that seats located at emergency exits are not occupied by passengers whose presence in those seats could adversely affect the safety of passengers or crew members during an emergency evacuation. Section 705.40 of the CARs further requires that only passengers whose presence will not adversely affect the safety of passengers or crew members during an emergency evacuation can occupy seats located on decks other than the main deck of the aircraft.

  3. Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) has received a number of requests for clarification as to what constitutes a seat at an emergency exit and what would be considered to adversely affect the safety of passengers and crew members during an evacuation.

  4. There has been much concern and discussion regarding the maximum number of passengers with disabilities that may be carried per flight, the possible criteria to examine when determining the maximum number per flight, and the safest seating locations for these passengers on board the aircraft.

  5. The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) regulates the terms and conditions of the domestic carriage of persons with disabilities in aircraft of 30 or more passenger seats under the Air Transportation Regulations (ATR) made pursuant to the Canada Transportation Act. As of January 1, 1994, air operators have been required to offer uniform services to travellers with disabilities.

  6. Part VII, section 149 of the ATR states:

    1. “Subject to section 151, an air carrier shall accept a service animal for carriage without charge if the animal is

      1. required by a person for assistance; and

      2. certified, in writing, as having been trained to assist a person by a professional service animal institution.

    2. Where an air carrier accepts a service animal for carriage pursuant to subsection (1), the air carrier shall permit the animal, if the animal is properly harnessed in accordance with standards established by a professional service animal institution, to accompany the person on board the aircraft and to remain at the person’s passenger seat."

  7. The CTA has also published a Code of Practice entitled Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities that presents minimum standards that air operators are expected to meet. Subsection 2.6 of the Code states:

    “Each class section of the passenger cabin of an aircraft, e.g. first class, business class, economy class, should have a number of passenger seats, other than exit row seats, that each provides enough floor space for a service animal to lie down."

  8. Safety on board aircraft is the responsibility of TCCA and air operators are required to conduct their operations in accordance with the CARs made pursuant to the Aeronautics Act. Nothing in the ATR or the above referenced Code of Practice relieves air operators from complying with the provisions of any safety regulations made under the Aeronautics Act.

  9. The U.S Department of Transportation has amended 14 CFR Part 382, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel, to include compliance requirements for foreign air operators. Please refer to this link: http://airconsumer.dot.gov/rules/rules.htm

4.0  EMERGENCY EXIT SEATS

  1. This section applies to air operators under Subpart 703, 704 and 705 of the CARs.

  2. Air operators shall establish procedures to ensure that seats located at emergency exits are not occupied by passengers whose presence in those seats could adversely affect the safety of passengers or crew members during an emergency evacuation.

  3. Emergency exits seats are defined as:

    1. Each seat having direct access to an exit;

    2. Each seat in a row of seats through which passengers would have to pass to gain access to an exit, from the first seat inboard of the exit to the first aisle inboard of the exit; and

    3. A seat from which a passenger can proceed directly to an exit without entering an aisle or passing around an obstacle.

  4. A passenger’s presence would be considered to adversely affect the safety of passengers and crew members during an emergency evacuation where he or she does not meet the following criteria. Passengers seated at emergency exits:

    1. Must be physically capable of using the exit;

    2. Must be capable of understanding the printed and spoken emergency instructions;

    3. Must be able to visually determine if the exit is safe to open;

    4. Must have sufficient mobility, strength and dexterity to reach, operate and stow (or otherwise dispose of) the emergency exit;

    5. Must be able to receive aural information from the crew and to orally communicate that information to other passengers;

    6. Must be of a minimum age (as established by the air operator) to ensure that he/she has the physical, cognitive and sensory capacity to operate an emergency exit;

    7. Must not be responsible for another person as this can hinder the opening of the emergency exit;

    8. Must not be travelling with a service animal; and

    9. Must not have a condition that might cause them harm by opening the exit.

  5. Passengers located on decks that require the use of stairs during an evacuation must not have a mobility disability that would inhibit the evacuation of persons behind them. An example of this would be seats on the upper deck of a Boeing 747-100, where the main evacuation route from the upper deck to the exit is via the stairway.

  6. It is important to re-assess and if necessary re-locate or re-brief passengers seated at an exit row prior to landing as a passenger may have become ill, intoxicated or sedated during the flight; or, a passenger may have re-located to another seat in flight. In any of these cases, a different passenger could be seated at the exit row during descent and would not have received the individual briefing and assessment prior to flight.

5.0  TRANSPORTATION OF PASSENGERS WITH DISABILITIES

  1. This section applies to aeroplanes with 30 or more passenger seats used for passenger service, and only to those areas of an aircraft that may be used by the general public.

  2. The CTA’s ATR, Part VII, Terms and Conditions of Carriage of Persons with Disabilities - ensures that air carriers provide uniform services to passengers with disabilities travelling in Canada on aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats.

  3. TCCA recommends that air operators establish procedures for the carriage of passengers with disabilities. When establishing these procedures, consideration should be given to, but not restricted to the following areas: reservations, seating assignments, maximum number of passengers with a disability and attendants.

5.1  Reservations

  1. When a reservation is being made or a ticket is being purchased for a passenger with a disability, the air operator should describe the services it provides to the passenger with a disability and any conditions in respect to those services. Air operators should provide passengers with a disability information on such things as preferred seating, available storage facilities for equipment required for a passenger with a disability, availability of space for a service animal, and the availability of an accessible lavatory.

  2. It is important to establish a dialogue between the air operator and the passenger with a disability or his/her attendant. Air operators should ask each passenger with a disability which specific services they require.

  3. To assist in the development of procedures and questions during the reservation process, the CTA has developed a reservation checklist, which is a step-by-step guide for meeting the needs of passengers with disabilities. Please visit their website at: http://www.cta-otc.gc.ca/eng/persons-disabilities

  4. Carry-on baggage (COB) for passengers with disabilities must follow air operators’ COB policies. The CTA also has information relating to the carriage of medical devices in their Air Travel Accessibility Regulations. As with COB requirements of the CARS, the carriage of these devices in the cabin of an aircraft is permitted only if space permits.

5.2  Seating Assignments

  1. Air operators should assess the best seating location for passengers with disabilities, taking into consideration the size and configuration of the aeroplane. Passengers with disabilities should be seated where they may be best assisted. Passenger with restricted mobility may be best seated close to floor level exits, taking into consideration which floor level exits have exterior stairs and which have inflatable slides.

  2. Air operators should ensure that passengers with a disability do not occupy seats where their presence could impede the evacuation of the aircraft and obstruct access to emergency exits and emergency equipment.

  3. Passengers who do not meet the emergency exit row criteria stated in Section 4.0 of this AC shall neither be assigned seats nor be seated in an emergency exit row. They also shall not be seated on the upper deck of an aircraft that requires the use of interior cabin stairs during an evacuation.

  4. In the case of window exits, where the evacuation procedures entail placing the removed window hatch in the seat row in front of the exit row, such seat rows should also be restricted for use by passengers who do not meet the criteria in Section 4.0 of this AC.

5.3  Maximum Number of Passengers with Disabilities

  1. The maximum number of passengers with disabilities that may be carried per flight may vary from flight to flight. The current regulations do not specify limits on the maximum number of passengers with disabilities that may be carried per flight.

  2. Air operators should consider the following when determining the maximum number of passengers with disabilities that may be carried per flight:

    1. The total number of able-bodied passengers on board;

    2. The type and configuration of the aircraft;

    3. The extent of the disability and whether the passenger with a disability is travelling with an attendant;

    4. The size of the entrance door; and

    5. The size and location of emergency exits.

  3. When determining the maximum number of passengers with a disability permitted on board a flight, air operators shall ensure that the flight attendant requirements under paragraph 705.104(2)(a) of the CARs are met and that aircraft do not operate with fewer flight attendants than required to safely perform the duties in an emergency, including an emergency evacuation.

  4. When accepting groups of passengers with a disability, the air operator should assess each situation individually and determine how they can mitigate any identified safety risks to the individual and all passengers and crew on board. The carriage of an attendant may be one way to mitigate the safety risk.

5.4  Attendants

  1. Air operators should consider the following criteria when determining if a passenger with a disability is capable of travelling on board an aircraft without an attendant.

  2. Passengers should be able to:

    1. Communicate satisfactorily with a crew member;

    2. Board, deplane and move to an assigned seat in a reasonable timeframe;

    3. Comprehend the passenger safety briefings and/or safety features card;

    4. Fasten and unfasten their safety belt;

    5. Reach the oxygen mask and don it; and

    6. Retrieve and don the life preserver and/or retrieve and utilize a flotation device.

  3. If a passenger with a disability meets the criteria listed above and chooses to travel without an attendant, they must also be aware that an on board flight attendant may not be able to provide personal service to the passenger. Flight attendants are required to provide assistance in an emergency situation; however, they may not be available to provide individual assistance during an emergency. A flight attendant’s primary duty in an evacuation is to open the emergency exit door(s), direct passengers to the exits using oral shouted commands, and manage the evacuation flow.

  4. There is no specific regulation requiring a passenger with a disability to be accompanied by an attendant. Each case may need to be assessed individually prior to check-in as there are varying degrees of a disability. This assessment should not be based solely on the passenger’s determination of his/her own abilities. If, after an assessment, the air operator deems that a passenger cannot perform the functions listed above, mitigating factors would have to be considered such as the carriage of an attendant. An air operator may choose to carry additional flight attendants for the purpose of providing assistance to passengers with disabilities in an emergency situation.

5.5  Athletes

  1. Athletes may be more capable of travelling unattended, given their athletic ability.

  2. When a group of athletes with disabilities is travelling, the air operator (Flight Operations) should base acceptance on the following considerations:

    1. Consultation with their internal Medical Department or a Civil Aviation Medical Examiner if no such department is in place;

    2. The number of passengers with a disability and the degree of disability of each passenger;

    3. The number of accompanying attendants;

    4. Briefing of accompanying attendants on emergency evacuation procedures; and

    5. The likelihood of accomplishing a successful emergency evacuation of the aircraft without unduly endangering the operating crew; including the assignment of “extra” flight attendants to strengthen this probability.

6.0  CARRIAGE OF SERVICE ANIMALS

6.1  Acceptance

  1. Air operators engaging in domestic airline operations using an aeroplane with 30 or more passenger seats are required to permit service animals used by individuals with a disability to accompany the person on a flight in accordance with the ATR.

  2. With respect to international flights operated by Canadian air operators using an aeroplane with 30 or more passengers seats, the CTA’s Air Code sets out the expectation that each class section of the passenger cabin of an aircraft, e.g. first class, business class, economy class, have a number of passengers seats, other than exit row seats, that each provides enough floor space for a service animal to lie down.

  3. Service animals may be trained to guide a person with a visual impairment, alert people with a hearing impairment, pull a wheelchair, carry and pick up articles for persons with mobility impairments, or assist persons with mobility impairments with their balance.

  4. When the following acceptance criteria have been met, the air operator is required to permit the animal to accompany the person on board the aircraft and to remain at the person’s seat:

    1. The person must need the animal for assistance. The criterion is that the animal performs tasks or services for the person on a day-to-day basis. This does not imply that carriage is conditional upon the animal performing the tasks or services during the flight;

    2. The service animal must be certified, in writing, by a professional service animal institution as having been trained to assist a person. For example, the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind issues an identification (ID) card certifying that both the dog and the passenger with the disability have each completed the training provided by the organization. Most service animal institutions provide an ID card, but some may provide a certificate, a licence, or identification papers confirming that the service animal has completed the required training. The air operator may obtain verbal confirmation that the animal is certified as a trained service animal. If there is doubt that the animal is a properly trained service animal, the air operator may request to see the certification document; and

    3. The animal must be properly harnessed in accordance with standards established by a professional service animal institution. Typically, the harness worn by a guide dog incorporates a handle that enhances the animal’s ability to guide a visually impaired person. Often, service animals wear a special collar or patch attached to their harness to indicate they are “on duty.”

  5. When a service animal is travelling by air but not accompanying the passenger with a disability to whom it provides service, the animal must travel in accordance with the air operator’s general policies regarding the carriage of animals.

6.2  On Board Placement

  1. It is incumbent upon the air operator to ensure that the seats assigned to service animal users have adequate space to accommodate the dog or other service animal.

  2. The air operator must ensure that compliance with safety regulations, such as section 705.40 of the CARs, are not jeopardized as a result of the seat assignment.

  3. The properly harnessed animal must be allowed to accompany the passenger with a disability to any seat the passenger uses. The exception would be where the presence of the animal in that location would impede or obstruct access to required emergency or safety equipment, and/or impede or obstruct access by any person to an emergency exit, and/or interfere with the ability of a crew member to carry out his/her assigned duties in an emergency evacuation (Refs. CARs 705.40; and 705.134). An example of the latter situation would be when the flight attendant must assess an exit’s exterior conditions through a cabin window adjacent to the exit.

  4. In most cases, trained service animals will occupy the available space. On occasion, due to the size of the service animal or the limited amount of usable floor space at the passenger seat, it may prove impossible for the service animal to be properly accommodated at the selected seat location. In such circumstances, the passenger accompanying the service animal must be provided with the opportunity to move to a seat location where the animal can be accommodated without creating an impediment or obstruction.

  5. If there is no place in the cabin where a service animal can be located without causing an impediment or obstruction as outlined above, the animal shall not be permitted to travel in the cabin. In order to prevent such a situation, air operators are expected to make every effort to accommodate passengers travelling with a service animal. This can be best ensured by prompt implementation of the CTA’s ATR and Code of Practice: Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities—Seats with Floor Space to Accommodate a Service Animal.

6.3  In Flight

The Flight Attendant Training Standard (TP 12296) and the Flight Attendant Manual Standard (TP 12295) requires that air operators develop procedures for the acceptance and carriage of service animals. During the development of these procedures consideration should be given to the following:

  1. During flight the service animal should remain harnessed and under the control of the user;

  2. The placement of the service animal to ensure that the animal’s extremities are not protruding into the aisle at any time. This is important to avoid accidental injury to the animal, crew and passengers;

  3. Air operator personnel should also be aware that an “on duty” service animal should not be petted or spoken to, except by its owner;

  4. The in-flight care and supervision of the animal is solely the responsibility of the user. The individual is trained in caring for the service animal and is responsible for all of its handling; and

  5. Depending on the aircraft configuration, seats at emergency exits or in emergency exit rows may have more legroom or foot space or there may be a vacant area adjacent to these seat(s) and the emergency exit. Air operators are reminded of paragraph 705.40(1)(d) of the CARs and are cautioned against relocating passengers with service animals to these seats for the cruise portion of flight. Circumstances prior to descent (e.g. turbulence, in-flight emergency) may prevent the passenger and service animal from safely returning to their assigned seat for landing.

7.0  SMART SEATING VIDEO

  1. TCCA has a video entitled "Smart Seating", TP 13402, which clarifies the seating regulations for passengers with special needs.

  2. This video is free of charge and may be ordered or requested at the following toll-free number: 1-888-830-4911.

8.0  CONCLUSION

Air operators should take the content of this AC into account when developing or amending procedures related to the transportation of passengers with a disability, the carriage of service animals and guidance on who is permitted to sit at an emergency exit.

9.0  CONTACT OFFICE

For more information, please contact:
Cabin Safety Standards, AARTI

Phone: 1-800-305-2059 or 613-993-7284
Fax: 613-957-4208
E-mail: CAIRS_NCR@tc.gc.ca

Suggestions for amendment to this document are invited, and should be submitted via the Transport Canada Civil Aviation Issues Reporting System (CAIRS) at the following Internet address:

http://www.tc.gc.ca/wcms-sgcw/civilaviation/cairs-755.htm

or by e-mail at: CAIRS_NCR@tc.gc.ca
 

“Original signed by Don Sherritt” 

D.B. Sherritt
Director, Standards
Civil Aviation

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