Aviation Access Forum (AAF)

The Aviation Access Forum (AAF) was established in 2013 to provide advice to the Australian Government on disability access policy as well as operational and administrative issues associated with access to air services for people with 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 as a means of further improving disability access in aviation.

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

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

Membership

The AAF is made up of members from:

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

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

Recent Issues

Carriage of Assistance Animals on Aircraft

Part 256A of the Civil Aviation Regulations (1988) allow the operator of an aircraft to permit a dog to be carried in an aircraft cabin, providing the dog is assisting a person who is visually or hearing impaired. CASA may issue permission for the carriage of an animal (dog) assisting a person, who is other than visually or hearing impaired, on a case by case basis.

Regulations relating to the carriage of assistance animals on aircraft are being considered in consultation with AAF members as part of CASA's regulatory reform program.

In February 2016, the Australian Human Rights Commission met with members of the AAF, CASA and representatives of the guide dog community to discuss the carriage of assistance animals on aircraft. This meeting reviewed the requirements outlined in the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 and Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 that relate to the carriage of assistance animals and the idea of a national assistance animal accreditation scheme. Further information is available on the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

The Australian Government Department of Social Services is understood to be developing a scoping paper on a possible Assistance Animal Accreditation Scheme in consultation with the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department. This paper is expected to be presented to the national Disability Policy Group in 2017.

Review of the Disability Access Facilitation Plans (DAFP)

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 disability.

The plans intend to cover as much of the journey as possible, which includes from making a reservation through to arriving at the intended destination.

Further information about current DAFPs can be found on the DAFP page of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development's website.

Outcome of the Review

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

A public consultation process was conducted between April and October 2014 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.

A total of 46 submissions were received from the aviation industry and the disability sector that highlighted the positive benefits of DAFPs and encouraged the future development of the DAFP Initiative.

The Review also identified a number of areas for improvement for the DAFP Initiative and made four recommendations:

  • increase public and industry awareness of the DAFP initiative;
  • make DAFP information easier to understand;
  • consider the whole-of-journey experience for passengers with disability; and
  • promote a better approach for reviewing individual DAFPs which includes consultation with the disability sector.

The Department has now completed all actions in response to the recommendations of the Review of the DAFP Initiative.

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.

The Department, together with the AAF, will continue to monitor the ongoing effectiveness of the DAFP Initiative and associated materials.

Review of Airline Two Wheelchair Policies

Background

On 26 February 2014, the Department released a draft Policy Paper for comment regarding the two wheelchair policies of some Australian domestic airlines.

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

Review of the Two Wheelchair Policy

In 2014, the Department completed a review of the two wheelchair policies of some Australian airlines.

The Department acknowledges that some airlines may be limited in the number of passengers they are able to accept who use a wheelchair due to 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 is pleased to advise that the majority of Australian domestic airlines have already agreed to adopt the more flexible approach advocated by the Department and have updated disability access information available on their websites.

Advisory Material

The following advisory material has been developed by the AAF to assist airline and airport operators we well as passengers with disability travelling by air:

Summary Records of Meetings of the Forum:

Former Aviation Access Working Group

Other Sites of Interest: