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Kids are special: Car seats and booster seats per the FAA. -AFW Command Pilot Ray Stratton

Kids are Special

It’s always a great feeling at the end of an Angel Flight to think that our piloting helped someone.  For me flying young children is especially rewarding. But it comes with some unique considerations.

When I learned to fly FAR 91.107 simply said everyone over the age of two needed a seat and a seat belt, instructed on how to use it, and it had to be fastened for taxi, takeoff and landing. Now parents expect to put their children in car seats and bring them to the flight. Sometimes it’s for the car rides to and from the airports, sometimes it’s for the flight too.

FAR 91.107 has been amended over the years to address the use of car seats. As AFW pilots we need to know this FAR if we have child passengers if the parents want to bring car seats, or we wish to supply one. Here is the essence of what 91.107 says about using car seats:

Any car seat used in the aircraft MUST bear these labels:

  1. “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards”; and

It looks like this.


(Note, this is one of many compliant manufactures and is not an endorsement of Britax.)

There are very few exceptions having to do with seats made per United Nations standards, or FAA approved with a type certificate or STC.

But here is a surprise from 91.107. “…booster-type child restraint…, vest-and harness-type child restraint systems, and lap held child restraints are not approved for use in aircraft”. Period. Not approved.

So what exactly is a “booster seat”? The FAR defers to 49 CFR 571.213 (Standard No. 213; Child restraint systems) for the definition of a booster seat. It says a “Booster seat means either a backless child restraint system or a belt-positioning seat.”

So FAR 91.107 does not mandate that a car seat be used for children, but if one is used it CANNOT be a booster seat, and must be one that is approved for use in aircraft.

For me, this means asking the parent/guardian if they are bringing a car seat or booster seat, checking the label of any car seats bought planeside, and putting any non-approved items in the aircraft’s cargo area.

Now I feel I need to re-read all Part 91 FARs to see what else has changed.

Ray Stratton (NGF 6394)
Comm, Inst, 1500 hours

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