Mobile Act Introduced
By PVA Staff
At the beginning of May, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN), along with original cosponsors Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Representative Pete Stauber (R-MN) introduced the Mobility Aids on Board Improve Lives and Empower All (MOBILE) Act (H.R. 3082/S. 1459).
This legislation would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue regulations requiring air carriers to publish on their websites or on other prominent and easily accessible places of the carrier, information describing the dimensions of the cargo holds of all aircraft types in the air carrier’s fleet, including the dimensions of the cargo hold entry. Passengers with disabilities who purchase a ticket for a flight from an air carrier but cannot fly on the existing aircraft because their assistive device (power/manual wheelchair or scooter) cannot fit in the cargo hold, will be refunded paid fares, fees, and taxes applicable to such flight.
Furthermore, the DOT Secretary will be required to evaluate data on mishandled wheelchairs and determine frequency of the type of damage, per type of assistive device. The Secretary will need to submit a report to the Senate Commerce and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committees regarding its evaluation. The report must include how the Secretary plans to address such results through consultation with air carriers, wheelchair manufacturers, national disability and disabled veterans organizations, and other relevant stakeholders.
Also, the Secretary will need to submit to Congress a “roadmap” on how DOT and the Access Board will work together, in accordance with the recommendations from the Transportation Research Board (TRB), to establish a program of research in collaboration with RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America) to study the feasibility of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems.
If flying while seated in a wheelchair is deemed technically feasible, the Secretary will conduct another study to assess the economic and financial feasibility of implementing seating arrangements that accommodate passengers with wheelchairs in the main cabin during flight. We are hopeful that this legislation will be included in the upcoming FAA Reauthorization Act.
We are also continuing to advocate for inclusion of the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (ACAAA) (H.R. 1267/S. 545) in the Reauthorization. Please contact your members of Congress in support of the ACAAA.