U.S. DOT looking to make single aisle airplane lavatories more accessible


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WASHINGTON, DC (WWLP)– The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to improve accessibility of lavatories for people with disabilities traveling on new single-aisle aircraft.

Currently, there is no federal requirement that lavatories on single-aisle aircraft be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Not being able to use the lavatory on long flights can present physical health challenges to passengers who use wheelchairs.

Single-aisle aircraft now operate the vast majority of domestic flights, including a large share of long, cross-country flights. The proposed rule would require airlines to make at least one lavatory on new single-aisle aircraft with 125 or more passenger seats large enough to permit a passenger with a disability (with the help of an assistant, if necessary) to approach, enter, and maneuver within the aircraft lavatory, to use all facilities in that lavatory, and to leave using the aircraft’s onboard wheelchair.

The ruling 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. It is the result of a 2016 negotiated rulemaking that was produced through a consensus among a cross-section of stakeholders including multiple national disability organizations.

DOT is publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on this issue and members of the public and interested parties can submit comments on the NRPM. Comments must be received within 60 days of the date the notice being published in the Federal Register. The NPRM can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/accessible-lavatories-single-aisle-aircraft-part-2 and at regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2021-0137.

DOT is holding a virtual public meeting regarding air travel by persons who use wheelchairs on March 24. More information and how to register can be found here.

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