The blog aims at providing a critique on the challenges in transportation systems for persons with disabilities and elderly, sharing ideas, incidences, case studies and suggesting interventions for a better world. Initially, it focused only on issues relating to Flying with Dignity and Respect and strictly followed developments and implementation of DGCA's Civil Aviation Requirement guidelines (India) and also in other countries.
SoP for Screening of Passengers with Special Needs and Medical Conditions
Bureau of Civil Aviation Security has issued procedure for screening of passengers and carry on baggage vide Circular No. 23/2005. The procedure for screening of persons with special needs including differently abled passengers and passengers with medical condition, has been described in the said circular. The Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) is laid down in the following paragraphs, prescribing the guidelines for screening of such passengers and device, appliances and carry–ons pertaining to them.
The provisions contained in this SOP shall be applicable to the following:
(i) All Indian airlines/ carriers engaged in scheduled and nonscheduled air transport services both domestic and international;
(ii) All foreign airlines/ carriers engaged in scheduled air transport operating to and from Indian Territory.
(iii) All airport operators, including private/JVs, within Indian Territory.
(iv) Aviation Security Group (ASG) / CISF / APSU deployed at airports.
I. Person with disability means any individual who has a physical or mental impairment that, on a permanent or temporary basis, substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment.
(a) Physical or mental impairment means:
(1) any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory including speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine; or
(2) any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
The term physical or mental impairment includes, but is not limited to, such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments; cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, autism, drug addiction, alcoholism and geriatric disabilities.
(b) Major life activities means functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.
(c) Has a record of such impairment means has a history of, or has been classified, or misclassified, as having a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
II. A person with reduced mobility (PRM) means any person whose mobility when using transport is reduced due to any physical disability (sensory or locomotor permanent or temporary), intellectual disability or impairment, or any other cause of disability, or age, and whose situation needs appropriate attention and the adaptation to his or her particular needs of the service made available to all passengers.
III. Incapacitated passengers are those with physical or mental disability or with a medical condition, who require individual attention or assistance on emplaning.
All airport operators should make special arrangements to facilitate screening of persons with special needs as above so that the process is carried out efficiently keeping the dignity and privacy of the passenger in mind while ensuring adequate level of screening. This will include provision of suitable enclosed space for private screening of passengers covered in this SoP.
The airport management/representative of air carrier shall provide wheel chairs and render necessary assistance to facilitate the movement of the persons with special needs, when required. However, they would not normally be directly taken to the aircraft, except in case of ambulance passengers.
While thorough checking is essential and the directives under AVSEC circular No. 23/2005 will be followed in letter and spirit, courtesy and attention to privacy and dignity will be invariably observed.
In the case of a passenger having difficulty in walking or standing, the way his or her screening is conducted will depend on his or her level of ability/disability.
If a passenger has difficulty standing or waiting in line due to a disability or a medical condition, he/ she should duly inform the screening personnel who will assist in directing the passenger either to front of the queue or to a separate line. Passengers should be encouraged to indicate brief details of their disability at the time of booking of the ticket itself and in case of such prior information, airlines and security staff shall make advance preparation for such passengers.
Medical documentation is helpful but not essential.
Canes, crutches and other devices which can be separated from the passengers should be subjected to x ray screening.
Wherever testing is done for detection of explosives, in addition to ETD, help of dog squad may be taken as per need. However, sensitivity of passenger and religious considerations may be kept in mind.
The procedure laid down herein is not exhaustive, and therefore, in the situations/ circumstances not exclusively dealt with in this SoP, commonsense of the screener shall prevail depending upon the situation, circumstances and condition of the passenger. For example, special procedure may be devised for persons with autism, down syndrome etc. The paramount importance is to ensure aviation security and at the same time safeguarding dignity of the passengers and preserving privacy.
Screening of passengers who use wheel chair or scooters (i.e. self - driven wheel chair)
1. When a passenger arrives at a screening point in a wheel chair / scooter, he/ she must be accompanied either by another travelling passenger or an airline representative (including GHA of the airline) before he proceeds through security. The accompanying passenger or the airline representative is responsible for the passenger throughout the whole process of screening.
2. If a passenger arrives at a screening point in a wheelchair and he/she is not accompanied by another travelling passenger or an airline representative, the airline’s Customer Service should be contacted for assistance.
3. At the screening point, depending upon the ability of the passenger to walk, he/she will be requested to walk through the DFMD unaided. If he/she cannot walk, it is the responsibility of the accompanying travelling passenger or the airline representative to push the passenger in the wheelchair unless it is self – driven.
4. In accordance with Airlines’ policy, there may also be non travelling support personnel in attendance to board the aircraft and lift the passenger into his/ her seat. This support person must be accompanied by the airline representative.
5. If there is a requirement for the passenger to be lifted at the screening point, the support person or the airline representative will perform the lifting for the passenger.
6. The support person will be escorted by an Airline representative at the time of boarding / disembarkation.
7. If the passenger can stand but cannot walk, he/she can be screened by undergoing a patdown while he/she stands beside the wheelchair or scooter.
8. If a passenger cannot stand, he/she should be offered a chair for screening and subjected to a patdown thereafter.
9. If there is an alarm by the DFMD, HHMD or other technology, the same must be resolved. If the alarm cannot be resolved, the passenger will not be permitted beyond the checkpoint.
10. The passenger’s wheelchair or scooter will be inspected, including the seat cushions and any pouches/ pockets. It will be tested for traces of explosives. Removable pouches will be xray screened.
11. Any carry – on bag or document with the wheelchair passenger shall be passed through the xray screening.
12. If a person objects to proceeding through the DFMD on justified medical or other ground, he/ she will be allowed passage through alternative way by the frisking officer and then subjected to screening by pat down search and HHMD where permissible.
13. If a person refuses to undergo screening, the frisking officer will inform the supervisor, who will direct what further action is to be taken. The concerned passenger will not be allowed entry past the screening point.
14. Only when satisfied that a person is not carrying any prohibited or dangerous article, the screening officer shall allow the person to proceed beyond the screening point.
Screening of passenger with prosthetics
1. During screening of prosthetics ASG/APSU may use Xray. ETD and visual check depending on the circumstances.
2. The passenger should inform the ASG/APSU of the existence of a prosthetic, his or her ability and of any need for assistance before screening begins. Passengers can use Notification Card to communicate discreetly with security officers. However, showing this card or other medical documentation will not exempt a passenger from additional screening when necessary.
3. Dignity and privacy of the passengers should be borne in mind during the entire process of security screening. Where the officer needs to see the prosthetic, care should be taken against exposing any sensitive areas. ASG/APSU will also use technology to test the prosthetic for traces of explosive material. If explosive material is detected, the passenger will have to undergo additional screening.
4. Passenger with prosthetics or braces/support appliances must be accompanied by an airline representative, preferable of the same gender as the passenger.
5. The staff of airline and any other accompanying person shall be frisked and checked before allowing them access to the passenger with prosthetics at the screening point.
6. The passenger will first pass through the DFMD and necessary security checks.
7. The passenger should then be taken to a private screening point and made to sit comfortably. He/she will receive additional screening including a patdown. If necessary, screening through ETD trace will be adopted. While dealing with prosthetic device and during taking off and putting on of clothes, privacy of the passenger should be maintained.
8. Screening of the prosthetic appliance will include xray screening, ETD detection and visual inspection. During visual inspection, care should be taken that sensitive parts are not exposed.
9. The screening in the private screening area will be carried out by two officials, one to handle to HHMD and patdown and the other to inspect the prosthetics, braces and support appliance and subject them to additional screening.
Screening of passengers who cannot remove shoes, medical device or bandages
1. Passengers who cannot remove their shoes due to a medical condition should inform the supervisor, SHA before screening.
2. Passenger can be screened using DFMD and/ or a whole – body pat – down.
3. The shoes may be subjected to additional screening like ETD, etc.
4. Passengers can be screened without disconnecting external medical devices and submitting them for xray. Such devices include Insulin pumps, Hearing aids, Cochlear implants, Spinal stimulators, Bone growth stimulators and Ostomies.
5. Under most circumstances, a passenger can conduct a self patdown of these devices followed by ETD screening of his/ her hands.
6. The devices should also be physically checked against any outside interference in the manufacturing.
7. Casts, braces and support appliances will be thoroughly inspected without exposing sensitive areas as far as possible. ETD screening will also be used to test for traces of explosive materials, where possible.
8. In case of bandages and/ or dressing, while caution will be observed during patdown, it needs to be ensured that the covered area is free of threat item. Metal detector, observation and self patdown followed by ETD checks may suffice in most cases.
9. Passengers with metal implants will be subjected to a thorough patdown, and the metal alarm should be resolved satisfactorily. The full body pat down should include the following:
i. It should concentrate on upper legs and torso.
ii. Special attention should be given to the chest and abdomen areas of the body.
iii. Particular focus should be on any skin surface abnormalities or wires or tubes exiting the body that may be signs of an implanted device.
10. In accordance with BCAS memo. no. CAS – 3 (32)/ 2009/ DIV – III B (SA Kolkata) dt 5.9.2010, all airport operators shall display a board near SHA in a prominent way stating that DFMD/ HHMD are safe for pacemaker and for pregnant ladies.
Screening of passengers with service animals:
If the passenger has a service animal, the instructions issued by AVSEC circular no. 6/2001 shall be implemented. If the service animal is permitted to be carried on board the following
instructions shall be followed.
a. The animal must be wearing a harness, vest, or other identifier that it is a service animal.
b. The passenger must maintain control of the animal at all times.
c. He or she should not be separated from the service animal.
d. The screening officer should ask for permission of the passenger before touching the animal.
e. Service animals are screened using walk through metal detector followed by a pat down.
There are three options:
i. The service animal goes first and the passenger follows holding the leash.
ii. The passenger goes first holding the leash and the service animal follows.
iii. The passenger and the service animal go together.
f. Regardless of who goes through the metal detector first, the screening officer will perform a physical inspection of the animal and its belongings (collar, harness, leash, backpack, vest, etc.). The belongings will not be removed from the animal.
g. The passenger should not make contact with service animal (other than maintain control of the leash) until the animal has been cleared.
h. Medication for serving animals will be subjected to x – ray and other screening, if required, separately. These also should be separated from other items in the passenger carryon.
Due to exigencies of their exceptional medical conditions/ illness, some passengers are directly taken through the security gates to the aircraft for boarding. In such cases, as far as possible, the airport operator/ airline should provide its own ambulance.
a. The passenger and all occupants of the vehicle should be subjected to a pre – embarkation security check at the security gate by the ASG/ APSU staff under the supervision of an officer not below the rank of an Inspector. The ambulance should be permitted to proceed to the aircraft only after this check has been completed.
b. In case the ambulance is privately owned or hospital provided, it must be led by follow – me vehicle of the airport operator. The ASG/ APSU staff shall check to ensure that the vehicles do not carry anything objectionable and are not being accompanied by
unauthorized persons or persons who have no need to be in the vehicles. Such ambulance will be escorted by ASG/APSU staff.
c. All occupants of the vehicles, unless exempted, must be screened at the gate before allowing entry into the airport.
d. The movement of the ambulance should be coordinated well in advance by the airline operator with CASO and airport operator.
Screening of medication and associated supplies
a. All medications and associated supplies (i.e., syringes, sharps disposal container, pens, infusers etc.) are allowed through the checkpoint only after they have been screened.
b. Medication and related supplies are normally x – rayed.
c. Passengers have the option of requesting a visual inspection of medications and associated supplies with due reason.
d. Any medication that cannot be cleared visually must be submitted for x – ray screening.
e. BCAS has issued detailed guidelines regarding carriage of liquids, aerosols and gel (LAGs) on board vide AVSEC Circular No. 18/ 2006. Medically necessary LAGs are permitted in excess of 100 ml on need basis after they have been screened. These items are subject to additional screening through visual inspection and ETD swipe, if necessary.
If a passenger has medically necessary LAGs, he or she needs to :
i. Limit the amount to what is reasonably necessary for the itinerary;
ii. Separate these items from the other LAGs;
iii. Declare the items; and,
iv. Present these items for additional inspection on reaching the security check point.
Xray screening of respiratory equipment
a. Supplemental oxygen and other respiratory related equipment are permitted through the checkpoint once they have been screened. This is subject to DGCA regulations also.
b. If a passenger can disconnect from the oxygen, the oxygen container will undergo x–ray screening.
c. Passengers who cannot disconnect from respiratory equipment will be screened by undergoing a pat – down.
d. Respiratory equipment that is not x – rayed will be visually and physically inspected, and will be subject to ETD screening.
After a spate of incidents involving discrimination, maltreatment of passengers with disabilities at the hands of airlines, security forces and aerodrome operators, Ministry of Civil Aviation/ DGCA has now revised its guidelines on the Carriage of Persons with Disability by Air vide its latest version dated 28 Feb 2014 to ensure better services and facilities. (Click here to open the guideline on Google Drive). Visit DGCA Website for the Guidelines.
The regulator DGCA has asked all airlines and airports to provide required facilities and assistance to meet the needs of disabled fliers and upload related information on their websites within three months.
After years of appeals by NGOs as well as some government agencies, the DGCA had released on February 28 a report with a set of compulsory guidelines for all carriers flying in India. The government has now come out with a set of civil aviation requirements (CAR), which formally activates the process.
The guidelines allow guide dogs, a mode of assistance widely adopted in western countries.
Till now, airlines had individual set of guidelines on dealing with differently-abled passengers. Many a time, such passengers were either harassed or, in some cases, not allowed to fly by airlines on one pretext or the other.
“No airline shall refuse to carry persons with disability or reduced mobility and their assistive aids/devices, escorts and guide dogs, including their presence in the cabin, provided such persons or their representatives, at the time of booking, inform the airline of their requirements,” the DGCA report said.
The DGCA has said that airlines need to obtain necessary information about the specific requirements of such passengers at the time of ticketing, which could be through online booking process or call centres. “Once the ticket is confirmed, no further enquires shall be made,” it said.
The airlines shall incorporate appropriate provisions on their websites within three months from the date of issue of the CAR, so that while making bookings, passengers with disability have the option to select the required facilities, which he/she will require during the journey, it added.
Listing instructions on guide dogs, the DGCA said that airlines should develop procedures for carriage of guide dogs, if required, inside the cabin.
“The guide dogs may be permitted in the cabin, subject to the condition that they are properly trained, remain on the floor at the passenger’s feet, properly harnessed and vaccinated. Passengers carrying guide dogs shall be required to produce a written proof to the airlines that their guide dog has been trained from an appropriate institution, vaccinated and medicated,” the statement said.
Airlines also have been asked to develop emergency evacuation procedures and handling of persons with disability or reduced mobility and include the information in their safety and emergency procedures (SEP) manual.
The DGCA said that it would, however, be the responsibility of the persons with disability or reduced mobility to notify their needs at least 48 hours before the scheduled time of departure so that the airline can make necessary arrangements. The arrangements may include the nature and level of special assistance required while embarking, disembarking and on board the flight.
According to the aviation regulator, the airlines as well as airport operators need to conduct training programmes for their staff engaged in passenger handling for sensitisation and developing awareness for assisting persons with disability or reduced mobility and to ensure that the staff are well-briefed on their legal responsibilities.
“The contents and duration of the training programme shall be in accordance with the guidelines issued by the department of disability affairs, the ministry of social justice and empowerment,” the DGCA added.