[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 189 (Thursday, September 29, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 60426-60431]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing 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

[[Page 60427]]

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: 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.

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

[[Page 60428]]

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.

Information for Passengers

    As a result of the 2008 amendment of part 382, U.S. and foreign air 
carriers are required to enable captioning \3\ on televisions and other 
audio-visual displays under their control in terminals to which 
passengers have access. Currently part 27 does not have a corresponding 
requirement for U.S. airports. The Department proposes to amend part 27 
by inserting a provision that would require airport operators at U.S. 
airports to enable high-contrast captioning on certain televisions and 
audio-visual displays in U.S. airports.
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    \3\ High-contrast captioning is defined in 14 CFR 382.3 as 
``captioning that is at least as easy to read as white letters on a 
consistent black background.'' As explained in the preamble to part 
382, defining ``high-contrast captioning'' in such a way not only 
ensures that captioning will be effective but also allows carriers 
to use existing or future technologies to achieve captioning that 
are as effective as white on black or more so.
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    Most televisions currently in use at U.S. airports have captioning 
capabilities because all televisions with screens 13'' or larger in 
size, made or sold in the U.S. since July 1, 1993, are required by 
Federal law to have captioning capabilities. Because of this, DOT 
believes that requiring airports to enable the captioning feature 
should not be costly or otherwise onerous. We believe compliance with 
this section is a matter of providing the training necessary to turn on 
the captioning feature of a television or other audio-visual display. 
Such training does not appear to require a lengthy amount of time or 
in-depth instruction. Given the straightforward nature of the 
implementation involved, the Department believes that the proposed 
thirty-day implementation period is adequate. DOT seeks comment on any 
reasons that a longer time frame may be necessary.
    Part 27 also does not contain a requirement for airports to provide 
the same information to deaf or hard of hearing individuals in airports 
that they provide to other members of the public. It is important that 
persons with a hearing loss or who are deaf do not miss important 
information available to others at an airport through the public 
address system. The Department seeks comment on whether it should 
require U.S. airports to display messages and pages broadcast over 
public address systems on video monitors. We also seek comment on 
whether we should amend 14 CFR part 382 to apply such a requirement to 
U.S. and foreign air carriers with respect to terminal facilities that 
a carrier owns, leases or controls. Is visual display of information 
announced over the public address

[[Page 60429]]

system the best means to disseminate airport-related announcements to 
passengers with hearing impairments? Should the Department establish a 
performance standard for providing information to individuals with 
hearing impairments rather than require airports to use a particular 
medium (e.g., video monitors, wireless pagers, erasable boards)? Also, 
we ask interested persons to comment on whether the Department should 
simply require that airports provide the text of the announcements made 
over the public address system promptly or should instead require that 
there be simultaneous visual transmission of the information. We also 
seek comment on whether all announcements made through the public 
address system should be displayed in a manner that is accessible to 
deaf and hard-of-hearing travelers, or only those announcements that 
are essential, e.g., that pertain to emergencies (fire, bomb threat 
etc.), flight information (gate assignments, delays or cancellations), 
or individuals being paged. Finally, the Department seeks comment on 
how much time airports would need to establish a system for displaying 
announcements and pages broadcast over public address system as well as 
the cost for establishing such a system.

Boarding Lifts for Aircraft

    Approximately 10 years ago, 49 CFR 27.72 was amended to mirror a 
provision in part 382 that required U.S. air carriers to enter into 
agreements with airport operators to ensure that lifts are available 
for enplaning and deplaning passengers with disabilities. As noted 
above, part 382 was extended to foreign air carriers in 2008. Currently 
49 CFR 27.72 does not require U.S. airports to work with foreign 
carriers to ensure that lifts are available; the language in 49 CFR 
27.72 covers only arrangements with U.S. carriers. The proposed rule 
would impose on U.S. airports the same requirements with respect to 
foreign carriers that 49 CFR 27.72 currently imposes on them with 
respect to U.S. carriers. The proposed rule would require airport 
operators to negotiate in good faith with foreign air carriers to 
provide, operate and maintain lifts for boarding and deplaning where 
level-entry loading bridges are not available. Under this proposal, the 
airport operators would be required to sign, no later than 90 days 
after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register, a written 
agreement with each foreign air carrier serving that airport that 
allocates responsibility for providing, operating and maintaining the 
lifts. We are proposing that the agreement provide that all actions 
necessary to ensure accessible boarding and deplaning for passengers 
with disabilities be completed no later than 120 days after the final 
rule's publication in the Federal Register.
    Also, the proposed rule would restructure the current lift 
requirements found in 49 CFR 27.72. When the rule was first written, 49 
CFR 27.72 applied to aircraft with a seating capacity of 19 through 30 
passengers. This provision was amended in May 3, 2001, to also apply to 
aircraft with a seating capacity of 31 or more passengers. Because of 
the implementation timelines specified in the 2001 amendment, 49 CFR 
27.72 includes two separate provisions outlining boarding assistance 
requirements for individuals with disabilities, section 27.72(c) and 
section 27.72(d). As an editorial matter the proposed rule would 
eliminate this distinction and make the rule applicable to lifts for 
boarding any aircraft with a seating capacity of 19 or more passengers 
that are not boarded via a level-entry loading bridge.

Regulatory Analyses and Notices

A. Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and 
Procedures

    Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 direct agencies to assess all 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive 
Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and 
benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting 
flexibility. This action has been determined to be significant under 
Executive Order 12866 and the Department of Transportation Regulatory 
Policies and Procedures because of its considerable interest to the 
disability community and the aviation industry. However DOT does not 
believe at this time that this action meets the criteria under the 
Executive Order for an economically significant rule.
    This action is the result of several important regulatory changes 
made to 14 CFR part 382, the rule implementing the ACAA. The extension 
to U.S. airports of the current lift provision in 49 CFR part 27, which 
requires airports to work not only with U.S. but also with foreign air 
carriers to ensure the availability of lifts, will be of interest to 
the aviation industry and the public. The Department has attempted to 
propose this extension in as equitable a manner as possible by applying 
to U.S. airports the same regulatory provisions that apply to U.S. and 
foreign air carriers. As noted above, the provisions of the proposed 
rule apply only to U.S. airports with 10,000 or more annual 
enplanements and that receive Federal financial assistance.
    The rule is not expected to require the purchase of additional 
lifts, since the approximately 216 affected U.S. airports (i.e., those 
that are served by foreign flag carriers and that have 10,000 or more 
enplanements) will already have lifts available by agreement between 
the airports and U.S. carriers as a result of the existing version of 
part 27. These airports may have already agreed with foreign carriers, 
such as certain Canadian, Mexican, or Caribbean carriers that use 
smaller aircraft that board from the tarmac, to provide this service; 
most other foreign carriers use larger aircraft that normally board via 
loading bridges. The effect of the rule would then be only to mandate 
what has already been done voluntarily. Existing agreements between 
carriers and airports, however, may need to be adjusted to broaden the 
availability of the lifts. Nonetheless, the Department seeks comment on 
whether the rule would require U.S. airports to purchase additional 
lifts, and if so how many, and what the cost of a typical lift is.
    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.
    Also, the Department believes that most airport video monitors have 
captioning capability, and turning on the captioning is likely to have 
minimal costs.

 B. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has been analyzed in accordance 
with the principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 13132 
(``Federalism''). This notice does not propose any regulation that has 
substantial direct effects on the States, the relationship between the 
national government and the States, or the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various levels of government. It does not 
propose any regulation that imposes substantial direct compliance costs 
on States and local governments. Therefore, the consultation and 
funding requirements of Executive Order 13132 do not apply.

C. Executive Order 13084

    This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has been analyzed in accordance 
with the principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 13084 
(``Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments''). The 
funding and consultation requirements of Executive Order 13084 do not 
apply because this notice does not significantly or uniquely affect the 
communities of the Indian Tribal governments and does not impose 
substantial direct compliance costs.

D. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., 
as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996), whenever an agency is required to publish a notice 
of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make 
available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that 
describes the effect of the rule on small entities (i.e., small 
businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions). 
No regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of an agency 
certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on 
a substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act to require Federal agencies to provide a 
statement of the factual basis for certifying that a rule will not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.
    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.

E. Paperwork Reduction Act

    This proposed rule adopts new and revised information collection 
requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The 
Department will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register 
inviting OMB, the general public, and other Federal agencies to comment 
on the new and revised information collection requirements contained in 
this document. As prescribed by the PRA, the requirements will not go 
into effect until OMB has approved them and the Department has 
published a notice announcing the effective date of the information 
collection requirements.

F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    The Department has determined that the requirements of Title II of 
the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 do not apply to this notice.

    Issued this 21st day of September 2011 in Washington, DC.
Ray LaHood,
Secretary of Transportation.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 27

    Airports, Civil rights, Individuals with disabilities, Reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements.
    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Department of 
Transportation proposes to amend 49 CFR part 27 as follows:
    1. The authority citation for part 27 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as 
amended (29 U.S.C. 794); sec. 16 (a) and (d) of the Federal Transit 
Act of 1964, as amended (49 U.S.C. 5310 (a) and (f); sec. 165 (b) of 
the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973, as amended (23 U.S.C. 142 nt.).

    2. In Sec.  27.3, amend paragraph (b) to read as follows:

    (b) Design, construction, or alteration of buildings or other 
fixed facilities by public entities subject to part 37 of this title 
shall be in conformance with appendices B and D of 36 CFR part 1191, 
as modified by appendix A to part 37 of this title. All other 
entities subject to section 504 shall design, construct, or alter 
buildings, or other fixed facilities, in conformance with appendices 
B and D of 36 CFR part 1191, as modified by appendix A to part 37 of 
this title.

    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.
    (i) High-contrast captioning (captioning that is at least as 
easy to read as white letters on a consistent background) on 
television and audio-visual displays. This subsection applies to 
airports with 10,000 or more annual enplanements.
    (1) Airport operators must enable high-contrast captioning at 
all times on all televisions and other audio-visual displays that 
are capable of displaying captions and

[[Page 60431]]

that are located in any gate area, ticketing area, first-class or 
other passenger lounge provided by a U.S. or foreign carrier, or any 
common area of the terminal, excluding shops and/or restaurants, to 
which any passengers have access.
    (2) With respect to any televisions or other audio-visual 
displays located in any gate area, ticketing area, first-class or 
other passenger lounge provided by a U.S. or foreign carrier, or any 
common area of the terminal, excluding shops and/or restaurants, to 
which any passengers have access, that provide passengers with 
safety briefings, information, or entertainment that do not have 
high-contrast captioning capability, an airport operator must 
replace these devices with equipment that does have such capability 
whenever such equipment is replaced in the normal course of 
operations and/or whenever areas of the terminal in which such 
equipment is located undergo substantial renovation or expansion.
    (3) If an airport acquires new televisions or other audio-visual 
displays for passenger safety briefings, information, or 
entertainment on or after [insert effective date of the final rule], 
such equipment must have high-contrast captioning capability.

    4. Amend Sec.  27.72 to read as follows:


Sec.  27.72  Boarding assistance for aircraft.

    (a) This section applies to airports with 10,000 or more annual 
enplanements.
    (b) Airports shall, in cooperation with carriers serving the 
airports, provide boarding assistance to individuals with disabilities 
using mechanical lifts, ramps, or other devices that do not require 
employees to lift or carry passengers up stairs. This section applies 
to all aircraft with a passenger capacity of 19 or more passenger 
seats, except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section. Paragraph 
(c) of this section applies to U.S. carriers and paragraph (d) of this 
section applies to foreign carriers.
    (c) Each airport operator shall negotiate in good faith with each 
U.S. carrier serving the airport concerning the acquisition and use of 
boarding assistance devices to ensure the provision of mechanical 
lifts, ramps, or other devices for boarding and deplaning where level-
entry loading bridges are not available. The airport operator must have 
a written, signed agreement with each U.S. carrier allocating 
responsibility for meeting the boarding and deplaning assistance 
requirements of this subpart between or among the parties. The 
agreement shall be made available, on request, to representatives of 
the Department of Transportation.
    (1) All airport operators and U.S. carriers involved are jointly 
and severally responsible for the timely and complete implementation of 
the agreement.
    (2) The agreement shall ensure that all lifts and other 
accessibility equipment are maintained in proper working condition.
    (d) Each airport operator shall negotiate in good faith with each 
foreign carrier serving the airport concerning the acquisition and use 
of boarding assistance devices to ensure the provision of mechanical 
lifts, ramps, or other devices for boarding and deplaning where level-
entry loading bridges are not available. The airport operator shall, by 
no later than December 28, 2011, sign a written agreement with the 
foreign carrier allocating responsibility for meeting the boarding and 
deplaning assistance requirements of this subpart between or among the 
parties. The agreement shall be made available, on request, to 
representatives of the Department of Transportation.
    (1) The agreement shall provide that all actions necessary to 
ensure accessible boarding and deplaning for passengers with 
disabilities are completed as soon as practicable, but no later than 
[insert 120 days after date of publication in Federal Register of the 
final rule].
    (2) All airport operators and foreign carriers involved are jointly 
and severally responsible for the timely and complete implementation of 
the agreement.
    (3) The agreement shall ensure that all lifts and other 
accessibility equipment are maintained in proper working condition.
    (e) Boarding assistance agreements required in paragraphs (c) and 
(d) are not required to apply to the following situations:
    (1) Access to float planes;
    (2) Access to the following 19-seat capacity aircraft models: The 
Fairchild Metro, the Jetstream 31 and 32, the Beech 1900 (C and D 
models), and the Embraer EMB-120;
    (3) Access to any other aircraft model determined by the Department 
of Transportation to be unsuitable for boarding and deplaning 
assistance by lift, ramp, or other suitable device. The Department will 
make such a determination if it concludes that--
    (i) No existing boarding and deplaning assistance device on the 
market will accommodate the aircraft without significant risk of 
serious damage to the aircraft or injury to passengers or employees, or
    (ii) Internal barriers are present in the aircraft that would 
preclude passengers who use a boarding or aisle chair from reaching a 
non-exit row seat.
    (f) When level-entry boarding and deplaning assistance is not 
required to be provided under paragraph (e) of this section, or cannot 
be provided as required by paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this section 
(e.g., because of mechanical problems with a lift), boarding assistance 
shall be provided by any available means to which the passenger 
consents. However, hand-carrying (i.e., directly picking up the 
passenger's body in the arms of one or more carrier personnel to effect 
a level change the passenger needs to enter or leave the aircraft) must 
never be used, even if the passenger consents, unless this is the only 
way of evacuating the individual in the event of an emergency.
    (g) In the event that airport personnel are involved in providing 
boarding assistance, the airport shall ensure that they are trained to 
proficiency in the use of the boarding assistance equipment used at the 
airport and appropriate boarding assistance procedures that safeguard 
the safety and dignity of passengers.
    5. In 49 CFR part 27 the word ``nonhandicapped'' is revised to read 
``nondisabled'' wherever it occurs. The term ``handicapped person''' is 
revised to read ``individual with a disability''' wherever it occurs. 
The term ``handicapped persons'' is revised to read ``individuals with 
a disability'' wherever it occurs. The term ``qualified handicapped 
person'' is revised to read ``qualified individual with a disability'' 
wherever it occurs. The term ``qualified handicapped persons'' is 
revised to read ``qualified individuals with a disability.'' Wherever 
the word ``handicapped'' is used without being followed by the words 
``person'' or ``persons,'' it is revised to read ``disabled'' wherever 
it occurs.

[FR Doc. 2011-24849 Filed 9-28-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-9X-P