The Kids Fly Safe Story
Welcome to Kids Fly Safe. The CARES restraint has been on the market since 2006. CARES child aviation restraint was invented by Louise Stoll, PhD, former Assistant Secretary, US Department of Transportation and grandmother of 9. In her own words, here is the Kids Fly Safe story:
The idea for CARES was born in the late 90’s when my daughter Miriam visited me in Washington D.C. She stepped off the plane carrying her toddler, a 20 lb car seat, and a diaper bag….and she was 7 months pregnant. I was aghast at the scene and remember saying to my husband, “There has to be a better way!”
That night I sketched what I thought a child restraint for airplanes should look like. It had to be lightweight, easy to carry and quick to install and remove from the airplane seat – all the things a car seat isn’t ! Most important, it had to keep the kids securely in place in turbulence and bumpy landings.
My husband looked at my drawings and said I should see a patent attorney. I did, and it turned out my idea was patentable. It took 2 ½ years for the patent to be issued. When I learned it was pending, I decided to see if my idea had legs. So I explored several alternative business models and tried to figure out how the Federal Aviation Administration determines what is allowed on planes. I learned that this is no simple matter, so I looked for a partner who understood the aviation world. Eventually I found AmSafe the Phoenix based company that manufactures most of the airplane seatbelts in the world and had years of experience working with the FAA.
The General Manager of AmSafe invited me to Phoenix to show him my patent application drawings. He liked what he saw. When my patent was awarded in June, 2002, I licensed it to AmSafe and they built the first prototype of CARES. Four years of developmental testing and regulatory reviews followed. This included crash tests with instrumented dummies, months for the required public notice, time for public response to this new idea for a child restraint, and finally the drafting of new regulatory language that would permit this specific harness-type child restraint on planes. The FAA determined that CARES provided an equivalent level of safety (ELOS) to a car seat for kids traveling in planes.
In September, 2006 the FAA announced it had certified CARES – the first and only alternative to a car seat permitted on planes. The certification gives parents the right to use CARES on all US airlines for all phases of flight: taxiing, take off, turbulence and landing. FAA regulators made it clear that airlines may not prevent parents from using CARES. The FAA announcement made news – it was picked up by national and international press and launched with a 6 minute segment on the Today show that same morning.
Kids Fly Safe has now sold over 200,000 CARES. CARES has also been certified by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK and flies on most of the major airlines of Europe and Asia.
Our goal is to ensure that every child flying has a safe seat. I personally believe that the airlines should provide CARES to child passengers just as they are required to provide extender belts to very large ones. It will take a movement to make this happen, but you can start by letting your congressman know what you think!
Lots of safe, happy flying to you all,