Are Aeroplane Infant Seat Belts Really Safe?

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Are Infant seat belts used in flights really safe? You decide.

Currently parents are told that the loop infant seat belts used on a baby on their lap provides protection for the baby. This is not true as you will watch in the video clip below:

In Malaysia, infants are lap-held and are “restrained” with the loop infant safety belt during flights. Of course there haven't been many instances in Malaysia of planes running off the runway, but let's not discount the possibility.

Just as it was in the video, in the event of a crash, the upper body and your legs are thrown forwards - a whiplash effect. As the adult is thrown forward, this in turn pushes the infant forward even more, resulting in the loop belt being pushed into the infant’s stomach until it finally stops at the infants spine.

Now, I'm no physics expert. But with the force of being thrown forward like that, especially with the added weight from the parent holding the child, I wonder just how much damage this could cause the child from the loop infant safety belt alone.

Did You Know?

When handed the infant seat belt, many parents would assume that any representative of the airline would know what they are talking about - seeing that this is their industry.

And maybe a lot of Malaysians parents have not enforced using a child safety car seat in their cars (although we are getting there). But the laws of physics does not change, dear parents: be it in the car or the plane.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)

The EUs independent air safety research agency, commissioned a study in 2008 which concludes that:

  • Safety standards for infants and children are not equal to those for adults
  • Lap-held infants are injured rather than protected by the adult behind them and loop belt restraint
  • Passengers would accept the increased costs particularly if the safety issues are made clear
  • Recommendations are also made regarding possible solutions for approved Child Restrain Devices and the required legislative changes.

A Pilot's View

Then there's the flip side of things, where this pilot commented in a mom's forum:

"Firstly, you write about the "jack-knife" effect, which would only happen when a plane decelerates quickly. This is not what happens in a heavy landing. In a heavy landing, the force is upwards, not backwards, so no jack-knifing occurs and the child loop belt is fine. Similarly, during turbulence the forces are up and down, so the loop is fine again.

The only situation where jack-knifing can occur is during a forced landing in a field or on water or by missing the runway. In those cases the seat would be better than the loop. But it's important to realize that in an airplane the main function of seat belts is to keep occupants in the seat during unusual maneuvers; not to keep them safe in an an accident. This is simply because many aviation accidents are non-survivable; even missing the runway or landing on water is often fatal.

He or she wasn't against children safety seats being a bad thing. But more so that there are other points to consider, before attempting to make a change in aviation law.

Approved Aviation Child Safety Harness

What about kids who are 2 years old and above, who get their own paid seats? Are there approved harnesses for them? Lugging a bulky child safety seat around in the airport just seems really inconvenient.

CARES Safety Harness for Children is a very good option to consider. It is the only easy, FAA- approved way for small children to fly safe. Made for children aged 1 and older, weighing between 10 - 20kgs, this aviation child safety harness is compact, light and fits in your purse.

Tiny Tapir use to be the official distributer for CARES in Malaysia, but they don't seem to carry the product anymore. If you really wish to purchase one, you can contact Mumspick.com as they are also distributors for CARES.