Sample Aviation Capstone Project Paper on Baby Seats in Airplane


Due to the high-profile plane crashes in the 1980’s and 90’s, public awareness regarding the safety of passengers in airplanes. Concern was even higher in cases where accident investigators pointed out that a child could have survived a crash had they been on a restraining system (Thompson, 2001). Unless the stakeholders find a way to provide space for children in restraint seats at cost effective prices, people are likely to go for other cheaper means of transport. Successful implementation of regulations to promote child safety in airplanes has not been fully realized because the regulators are finding it difficult to apply and still keep the business profitable.


The issue of child seats in planes has sparked debates over decades between the stakeholders and the regulators. The parties have agreed that children below two years should not be ticketed, and it is the parent’s choice to pay for them and have them restrained. Children who are older than two are to be treated like adult passengers and must be ticketed. Other issues explored include the financial constraints and options parents have when choosing to travel by air. However, the stakeholders and regulators feel that there is a need for an invention of a device that would guarantee safety to babies without taking additional space.


It was not until the 1978 Portland plane crash that the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) started advocating for child restraint systems in all airplanes to protect their lives during turbulence and survivable crashes. Although the child restraints are not currently required, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has stipulated that minors with a mass below 40 pounds are not sufficiently protected by the existing seat belts in the planes (Rapoport,  Jan & Lindsey 2012).  Age wise, children under two are not supposed to be ticketed, but considered as ‘lap child’ and it is the parent’s choice to have them restrained. The FAA stipulated that carriers are obliged to allow parents to carry safety baby seats onto flights unless there is a free seat available, but at an extra cost while children above two years are considered passengers just like adults and must be ticketed.

The NTSB and FAA came together in the mid-eighties to collaborate and come up with a common approach to child seat safety and regulations that will support both airline and highway transport systems (Thompson, 2001). Nonetheless, these goals have not been achieved due to technical and operational issues. The added cost of buying a seat is seen to likely sway people into preferring to travel by road, but statistics have shown that there is a greater degree of danger traveling by road compared to air, that is, 50,000 casualties annually through road accidents against 62 for airplane accidents. For this reason, the FAA refused to mandate the implementation of a restraint system in 1995 as they felt people would go for less safer modes of transport.

Controversially, in case a parent decides to hold their baby on their lap and forgo the extra fare, there will be no secure restraint. Some aviation experts feel that everything that goes into a plane should be tied down, and every baby on the flight should be accorded the same protections like the adults (Rapoport, Jan & Lindsey 2012). This issue has raised a lot of concern because of the FAA, which is charged with aviation safety, seems to find it difficult implementing the safety guidelines and at the same time promoting aviation commerce. Another group of experts feels that Congress involvement through legislation will force airlines to raise the price of tickets for all passengers to cater the losses they would have to incur or make cutbacks in safety inspections (Thompson, 2001). The opposing side stipulates that it is the ultimate responsibility of a parent to pay the bill, and it is morally wrong to shift the cost to other passengers or airlines. Airlines have agreed to the government call on safety and have admitted they will only allow a baby seat on board if the flight is not crowded. However, all the stakeholders will be happy if there was some device that would provide safety to babies without taking up an extra seat.


Rapoport, D. E., Brown, J., & Epstein, L. A. (2012). Babies Have a Right to a Safe Seat with Proper Restraints-The Infant Seat Exception Should Be Abandoned. Issues Aviation L. & Pol’y, 12, 67. Retrieved from

Thompson, S. E. (2001). Why, after All This Time, Is the FAA Just Now Taking Steps to Mandate Child Restraint Systems on Aircraft? Gonz. L. Rev., 37, 533. Retrieved from