IAADP
International Association of
Assistance Dog Partners


Excerpts from the NPRM which discuss Service Animal Relief Areas, including Nine DOT Requests for Comments on various issues.

Federal Register Volume 76, Number 189 (Thursday, September 29, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]  [Pages 60426-60431]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-24849]

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Office of the Secretary

49 CFR Part 27

RIN 2105-AD91
[Docket No. DOT-OST-2011-0182]

Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or
Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance (U.S. Airports)

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

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SUMMARY: The Department is proposing to amend its rules implementing
section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires
accessibility in airport terminal facilities that receive Federal
financial assistance. The proposed rule includes new provisions related
to service animal relief areas and captioning of televisions and audio-
visual displays that are similar to new requirements applicable to U.S.
and foreign air carriers under the Department's Air Carrier Access
(ACAA) regulations, 14 CFR part 382. The NPRM also proposes to
reorganize the provision in 49 CFR 27.72 concerning mechanical lifts
for enplaning and deplaning passengers with mobility impairments, and
to amend this provision so airports are required to work not only with
U.S. carriers but also foreign air carriers to ensure lifts are available where level entry loading bridges are not available.
This proposed rule would apply to airport facilities located
in the U.S. with 10,000 or more annual enplanements and that receive
Federal financial assistance.

DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding this
proposal. Comments must be received on or before November 28, 2011.
Late-filed comments will be considered to the extent practicable.

ADDRESSES: ((((( Note from Joan Froling, IAADP Chairperson.....Instructions for filing Public Comments have been put at the bottom of this document )))))

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On November 1, 1996, the U.S. Department of Transportation amended
its regulation implementing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of
1973 to create a new section 49 CFR 27.72, concerning regulatory
requirements for U.S. airports to ensure the availability of lifts to
provide level-entry boarding for passengers with disabilities flying on
small commuter aircraft. See 61 FR 56409. This requirement paralleled
the lift provisions applicable to U.S. carriers in the ACAA rule, 14
CFR part 382. On May 13, 2008, the Department of Transportation
published a final rule that amended part 382 by making it applicable to
foreign air carriers. See 73 FR 27614. In addition to making the rule
applicable to foreign carriers, the amended part 382 includes
provisions that require U.S. and foreign air carriers, in cooperation
with airport operators, to provide animal relief areas for service
animals that accompany passengers departing, connecting, or arriving at
U.S. airports. See 14 CFR 382.51(a)(5). Part 382 also requires U.S. and
foreign air carriers to enable captioning on all televisions and other
audio-visual displays that are capable of displaying captioning and
that are located in any portion of the airport terminal to which any
passengers have access. See 14 CFR 382.51(a)(6). As a result of the
2008 amendment to part 382, the requirements in part 27 do not mirror
the requirements applicable to airlines set forth in part 382. In order
to harmonize part 27 with the amended part 382, the Department proposes
to amend part 27 to add such parallel provisions.
    The proposed rule would also update outdated terminology and
references that currently exist in 49 CFR part 27. The proposed rule
would change the word ``handicapped,'' and similar variations of that
word that appear throughout part 27, to ``people first'' language
(e.g., ``individuals with disabilities'') consistent with practice
under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, the proposed
rule would delete the obsolete reference to the Uniform Federal
Accessibility Standards in 49 CFR 27.3(b) and change the language
``appendix A to part 37 of this title'' to ``appendices B and D of 36
CFR part 1191, as modified by appendix A to part 37 of this title.''

Service Animal Relief Areas

    The 2008 amendment to part 382 requires U.S. and foreign air
carriers to work with airport operators to provide service animal
relief areas at U.S. airports. Part 27 does not include a provision
that mirrors this requirement. As such, the Department proposes to
amend part 27 by inserting a provision that would require airport
operators to work with carriers to establish relief areas for service
animals that accompany passengers with disabilities departing,
connecting, or arriving at U.S. airports.
    Part 382 does not provide specific directives regarding the design,
number, or location of service animal relief areas an airport should
have; it simply requires carriers to provide service animal relief
areas in cooperation with the airports and in consultation with service
animal training organizations concerning the design of service animal
relief areas. However, in a Frequently Asked Questions document issued
by the Department's Aviation Enforcement Office on May 13, 2009,
examples of factors airlines and airports should consider in
designating and constructing areas for service animal relief at U.S.
airports are provided.\1\ Factors to consider in establishing relief
areas include the size and surface material of the area, maintenance,
and distance to relief area which could vary based on the size and
configuration of the airport. The Department seeks comment about
whether it should adopt requirements regarding the design of service
animal relief areas and what, if any, provisions the rule should
include concerning the dimensions, materials used, and maintenance for
relief areas.
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    \1\ The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worked with
the Department to develop guidelines identifying key security
concerns and concepts that should be factored into the planning and
design of airport facilities, including service animal relief areas.
See ``Recommended Security Guidelines for Airport Planning, Design
and Construction,'' revised May 2011, available at http://www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/airport_security_design_guidelines.pdf.
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    We are tentatively proposing a minimum of one service animal relief
area for each terminal in an airport. The Department is aware that
requiring only one service animal relief area for each terminal in an
airport may result in individuals with disabilities missing flights
when trying to reach service animal relief areas located outside the
sterile area of an airport, especially in larger airports. For this reason, and despite our tentative
recommendation of one relief area for each terminal in an airport, the
Department seeks comment on what would be an appropriate number of
service animal relief areas in an airport. In addition to seeking
public comment on how many service animal relief areas should be
required at an airport or a terminal, the Department would like to know
how that number should be determined. For example, should the number be
determined by the size or configuration of the airport (e.g., the
number, location and design of terminals and concourses) and/or the
amount of time it would take for an individual with a disability to
reach a service animal relief area from any gate within the airport? Or
should DOT establish a performance requirement that a passenger
arriving at any gate with his or her service animal be able to reach a
relief area in 10, 20 or some other number of minutes?
    The Department also seeks comment on the placement of service
animal relief areas, particularly whether service animal relief areas
should be located inside or outside the sterile \2\ area of an airport.
It could be important to have relief areas both inside and outside the
sterile area of an airport to ensure that individuals with service
animals have access to such areas when traveling. For example, an
individual traveling with a service animal could arrive at Gate C3 and
have an hour to make a connection to a flight at Gate G17. If the
individual must leave the sterile area to find a service animal relief
area, travel to and from that area, and then go back through security
screening, the individual could have difficulty in making the
connecting flight. At the same time, we understand that some airports
have expressed security and logistical concerns about the placement of
service animal relief areas inside the sterile area of an airport. The
Department also recognizes that the Transportation Security
Administration (TSA) in May 2011 revised its guidelines ``Recommended
Security Guidelines for Airport Planning, Design and Construction,'' to
make clear that airports may provide Service Animal Relief Areas in
sterile areas of the airport, or may provide escorted access to non-
designated outdoor areas for the purpose of service animal relief. The
Department also recognizes that coordination with the TSA via each
airport's site-specific Airport Security Program would need to occur if
service animal relief areas are to be placed inside the sterile area.
Consequently, the Department seeks comment on where airport service
animal relief areas should be located to ensure that the time and
distance to access the service animal relief areas do not create
barriers for passengers with disabilities.
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    \2\ The sterile area is the area between the TSA passenger
screening checkpoint and the aircraft boarding gates. See 49 CFR
1540.5.
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    Finally, the Department has been made aware that some individuals
with disabilities, especially, but not only, individuals who are blind
or visually impaired, are experiencing difficulty in locating service
animal relief areas at certain airports. Under part 382, passengers who
request that a carrier provide them with assistance to an animal relief
area should be advised by the carrier of the location of the animal
relief area. Additionally, if requested, it would be the responsibility
of the carrier to accompany a passenger traveling with a service animal
to and from the animal relief area. Nevertheless, we seek comment on
whether the rule should include a provision requiring airports to
specify the location of service animal relief areas on airport Web
sites, maps and/or diagrams of the airport, including whether the
relief area is located inside or outside a sterile area. We also seek
comment on whether airports should be required to provide signage to
assist individuals with disabilities in locating service animal relief
areas.
    To the extent that the Department issues a final rule with
requirements for airports to establish service animal relief areas that
are more detailed than the requirements for U.S. and foreign airports
that exist in part 382, the Department believes that it is beneficial
to have the same requirements apply to U.S. and Foreign airlines. As
such, we are soliciting comment on whether any requirement that applies
to U.S. airports should also be applied to U.S. and foreign carriers.
For example, if the Department creates a requirement that airports must
establish service animal relief areas inside the sterile area of an
airport, should such a requirement apply to U.S. and foreign air
carriers in part 382?
    We propose that any final rule that we adopt regarding establishing
service animal relief areas take effect 120 days after its publication
in the Federal Register. We believe this would allow sufficient time
for airports to comply with this requirement, particularly since U.S.
and foreign airlines are already working with airports to establish and
maintain service animal relief areas. We invite comments on whether 120
days is the appropriate interval.

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  A particularly important element of the proposed rule is the
addition of a new provision that requires U.S. airport operators, in
cooperation with U.S. and foreign air carriers, to provide service
animal relief areas. The proposed rule contemplates a minimum of one
relief area for each terminal within an airport; however, the
Department is aware that requiring only one service animal relief area
for each terminal in an airport may be inadequate as it may result in
individuals with disabilities missing flights when trying to reach
service animal relief areas located outside the sterile area of an
airport, especially in larger airports. Nonetheless, given the widely
divergent plans of airports, we are only able to make a plausible
assumption about the number of terminals that exist in a given airport
based on the size of the airport. Using information provided by the
FAA, which categorizes the size of the 368 airports within the United
States, we postulate that the 29 large-hub airports contain
approximately 7 terminals, the 36 medium-hub airports contain
approximately 5 terminals, the 72 small-hub airports contain
approximately 3 terminals, and the 231 non-hub airports contain
approximately 1 terminal. As

[[Page 60430]]

such, we estimate that 830 terminals will exist in the 368 airports in
the United States. We estimate that the initial cost for such an area
would be approximately $5,000 per terminal, with low- and high-cost
alternatives ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. We postulate a likely
annual maintenance cost of $1,000 per terminal with a range from $500
to $2,000. The Department seeks comments on these estimates.
  

****    The Department certifies that this rule, if adopted, would not have
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small
entities. The Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards define
privately owned airports as small businesses if their annual revenues
do not exceed $7 million. Publicly owned airports are categorized as
small entities if they are owned by jurisdictions with fewer than
50,000 inhabitants. This rule applies to airports with 10,000 or more
annual enplanements, which are primary airports that have more
commercial-service traffic and account for 96% of U.S. enplanements per
annum. Out of the 368 airports with more than 10,000 enplanements that
are potentially affected by the proposed rule, we estimate that
approximately 50 to 55 are defined as small entities.
    The Department believes that the economic impact will not be
significant to these 55 airports because the overall annual costs
associated with the rule are not great. The only provision of this rule
that we believe may impose measurable costs on airports is the
requirement that at least one service animal relief area be made
available at each U.S. airport terminal. The estimated total costs for
constructing and maintaining relief areas at these airports, assuming
that each of these 55 airport would only need one relief area, would
range from a low of about $600 to a high of about $3,000, with an
expected value of about $1,500. On the basis of this examination, the
Department certifies that this rule will not have a significant
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. A copy of
the Regulatory Flexibility Analysis will be placed in docket.

    3. In Sec.  27.71, add paragraph (h) and (i) to read as follows:

    (h) Service animal relief areas. Each airport with 10,000 or
more annual enplanements shall consult with service animal training
organization(s) and cooperate with airlines that own, lease, or
control terminal facilities at that airport to provide at least one
animal relief area in each airport terminal for service animals that
accompany passengers departing, connecting, or arriving at the
airport. To the extent that airports have established animal relief
areas prior to the effective date of this subsection and have not
consulted with service animal training organization(s), airports
shall consult with service animal training organization(s) regarding
the sufficiency of all existing animal relief areas.

INFORMATION ON FILING PUBLIC COMMENTS

ADDRESSES: You may file comments identified by docket number DOT-OST-
2011-0182 by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting
comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building Ground
Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room
W12-140, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday
through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: (202) 493-2251.
    Instructions: You must include the agency name and docket number
DOT-OST-2011-0182 or the Regulatory Identification Number (RIN) for the
rulemaking at the beginning of your comment. All comments received will
be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any
personal information provided.
    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all
comments received in any of our dockets by the name of the individual
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's
complete Privacy Act statement in the Federal Register published on
April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78), or you may visit http://DocketsInfo.dot.gov.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov or to the street
address listed above. Follow the online instructions for accessing the
docket.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maegan L. Johnson, Trial Attorney,
Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and
Proceedings, Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE.,
Room W96-464, Washington, DC 20590, (202) 366-9342. You may also
contact Blane A. Workie, Deputy Assistant General Counsel, Office of
the Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings,
Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Room W96-
464, Washington, DC 20590, (202) 366-9342. Arrangements to receive this
notice in an alternative format may be made by contacting the above
named individuals.



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