Aviation Access Forum (AAF)

The Aviation Access Forum (AAF) was established in 2013 to provide advice to the Government on disability access policy, and operational and administrative issues associated with access to air services for people with a disability.

The AAF also provides an opportunity for information to be exchanged between representatives of disability sector organisations, the aviation industry and Australian Government agencies to help further improve disability access in aviation.

The Terms of Reference set out the formal objectives of the AAF: PDF: 9 KB ReadSpeaker

Key issues that the Aviation Access Forum is currently considering include:

  • a review of the Disability Access Facilitation Plan (DAFP) initiative;
  • the carriage of assistance animals on aircraft.

Queries in relation to the AAF can be sent to: AAF_secretariat@infrastructure.gov.au.

Membership

The AAF comprises representatives from:

  • organisations representing passengers with a disability including, the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, Physical Disability Australia, National Disability Services, Paraquad, the Deafness Forum of Australia and Inclusion Australia;
  • industry (both airline and airport operators); and
  • Australian Government agencies including the Attorney General's Department, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The AAF is chaired by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development who also provide Secretariat support.

Current Issues

Review of the Disability Access Facilitation Plans (DAFP)

Outcome of the Review

On 30 June 2015, the Department, in close consultation with the Aviation Access Forum, completed the Review of the Disability Access Facilitation Plan (DAFP) Initiative. The aim of the Review was to improve the effectiveness and accessibility of DAFPs.

The Department conducted a public consultation process to obtain feedback on the effectiveness of current airline and airport DAFPs and to develop practical suggestions for improving the DAFP Initiative. Representatives from the aviation industry and disability sector were invited to provide feedback through an online feedback form.

The public consultation ran from 16 April 2014 to 31 October 2014 and 46 submissions were received. The feedback received from the aviation industry and the disability sector was positive and encouraged the future development of the DAFP Initiative.

However, the Review identified that there are a number of areas for improvement for the DAFP Initiative and made four recommendations which aim to:

  • increase the public awareness of the DAFP initiative;
  • improve the accessibility and effectiveness of the plans; and
  • promote better engagement between the aviation industry and disability sector.

The Department is working with the Aviation Access Forum to action the four recommendations from the review.

The completion of the Review also addresses Recommendation 7 of the Review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002, which recommended that the Department undertake a review of the DAFP Initiative by 30 June 2015.

Background

Since 2009, airline and airport operators have been encouraged to develop and publish Disability Access Facilitation Plans (DAFPs) to communicate their individual approach to meeting the needs of passengers with disabilities.

These plans cover the total travel experience from making a reservation through to arriving at the intended destination.

Further information about current DAFPs can be found on the DAFP page of this Department's website.

Review of Airline Two Wheelchair Policies

Outcome of the Review

The Department has completed a review into the two wheelchair policies of some Australian airlines.

The Department acknowledges that there may be limits to the number of passengers requiring wheelchair assistance which an airline can carry on a particular flight. In a normal operating environment, some airlines may be limited in the number of passengers requiring wheelchair assistance they are able to accept depending on the operational and safety requirements of the particular flight. The Department therefore recommends airlines adopt a more flexible approach, rather than always imposing a strict limit of two passengers requiring wheelchair assistance per flight.

The Department has updated the following guidance advice in consultation with the Aviation Access Forum to reflect the preferred policy approach outlined above:

  • Disability Access Facilitation Plan—Airline Template
  • Disability Access Facilitation Plan—Regional Airline template
  • Carriage of Mobility Aids—Guidance Material for Airline and Airport Operators
  • Carriage of Mobility Aids—Guidance Material for Passengers

The Department is pleased to advise that some airlines have already agreed to adopt the more flexible approach advocated by the Department and have updated disability access information available on their website accordingly.

Background

On 26 February 2014, this Department released a draft Policy Paper for comment regarding the two wheelchair policies of some Australian domestic airlines which limit the number of passengers requiring wheelchair assistance that can travel per flight.

The Policy Paper acknowledged that making provisions for an unlimited number of passengers requiring assistance is not practical especially for the operation of low cost carriers, however by introducing greater flexibility and improving booking processes, it is possible for airlines to alleviate some of the adverse effects of the two wheelchair policy on passengers with mobility restrictions.

Advisory Material

The following advisory material has been developed to assist airline and airport operators and passengers with a disability travelling by air.

Summary Records of Meetings of the Forum:

Former Aviation Access Working Group

Other Sites of Interest: