A recent Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) advisory circular has flagged proposed changes to regulations around the carriage of assistance animals on aircraft.
The new regulations would affect the carriage of animals in the cabin, and the procedures to be followed for their carriage and their owners/handlers and trainers.
CASA defines Assistance Animals, firstly, as a dog or other animal that is:
- accredited under a law of a State or Territory that provides for the accreditation of animals trained to assist a person with a disability, or
- accredited by an animal training organisation, or
- trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability and, also, to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place.
Should the new regulations come into play on 02 December 2021, it will no longer be a requirement that an airline operator hold written permission from CASA to carry assistance animals on a flight. All a person will need to take an animal on board an aircraft is the
permission of the pilot in command.
The pilot in command will be required to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of flight is not adversely affected—especially important if the animal is to travel in the cabin of the aircraft.
And it’s not just sight or hearing-impaired passengers that will benefit from the new rules—there are other disabilities where the person may be aided by other types of assistance animals. Examples include medical alert dogs, psychological support dogs, and dogs that provide mobility assistance.
There are numerous other considerations around access, seating and space for the assistance animals, water, restraints and the likely impacts on other passengers that airlines will have to resolve. But don’t be surprised, in time, if you find yourself sharing a flight with some very good (trained and accredited) dogs.
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