Carriage of Assistance Dogs in the Cabin of an Aircraft
In general terms, Civil Aviation Regulation (1988) 256A (1) provides for the operator of an aircraft to permit a dog to be carried, in an aircraft cabin, providing the dog is assisting a person who is visually or hearing impaired. CASA may issue permission for the carriage of an animal (dog) assisting a person, who is other than visually or hearing impaired, on a case by case basis.
CASA’s prime consideration in this area is the safety, with the aforementioned regulation clearly stating that an animal must not be carried on an aircraft if the animal would be likely to affect a person on the aircraft in a way that may adversely affect the safety of the aircraft.
In recent years, it has been recognised that a wider range of disabled persons, in the community, have been using assistance dogs. CASA has, therefore, in line with overseas practice, provided permission to some operators which, in conjunction with the regulation, permit them (the operator) to consider the carriage of a bona fide assistance dog, in the cabin of its aircraft, without further recall to CASA.
This permission recognises that an assistance dog, other than a guide or hearing assist dog, which has been specifically trained to assist a disabled person, and which has been qualified by one of the named charitable organisations, registered as full members of 'Assistance Dogs International', is also unlikely to adversely affect the safety of an aircraft and its occupants.
In order to meet the conditions of the permission, the operator must be satisfied that the assistance dog is in fact providing assistance to a disabled person. The owner must also produce to the operator, formal identification, of their assistance dog, which has been issued by the Australian organisations listed on the permission. This identification should attest to the dog’s high standard of training, behaviour, health and welfare, providing certainty to the operator, and other relevant parties where necessary.
Organisations listed, in the permission, recommend that all hearing dogs, guide dogs and assistance dogs are easily identifiable through lead, collar or harness and that identification cards must be carried by all owners at all times when the dog is working.
Operators wishing to accept the carriage an assistance animal, which falls outside the provision of the regulation and supporting permission, must still apply to CASA. A standard fee will apply for the consideration of such an application.