DOT Forms In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force
Its members will be announced during the first meeting of DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee, which is scheduled to take place Jan. 16, 2019, in Washington, D.C.
The first meeting of DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee is scheduled to take place Jan. 16, 2019, in Washington, D.C. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced Nov. 15 that she has reconstituted the committee, known as ACPAC, and also established the National In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force as an ACPAC subcommittee.
At the Jan. 16 meeting, set to begin at 9 a.m. and concluded at 4 p.m., the members of the task force will be announced and there will be a discussion of their duties. Two other topics – the transparency of airline ancillary service fees and involuntary changes to itineraries – will also be discussed. The meeting will be open to the public, and DOT will stream the event live on the Internet.
The committee will evaluate current aviation consumer protection programs and provide recommendations to the secretary for improving them, as well as recommend any additional consumer protections that may be needed. The task force will review current practices, protocols, and requirements of U.S. airlines in responding to and reporting allegations of sexual misconduct by passengers on aircraft and will provide recommendations to ACPAC on best practices relating to training, reporting, and data collection regarding incidents of sexual misconduct by passengers on commercial aircraft.
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (FAA Act), signed by President Donald J. Trump on Oct. 5, 2018, requires the secretary to appoint four members to ACPAC, with one representative each of U.S. airlines, airport operators, state or local governments, and nonprofit public interest groups with expertise in consumer protection. The act also specifies that the task force members must include representatives from DOT, the Department of Justice (including the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Office of Victims of Crime, and Office on Violence Against Women), Department of Health and Human Services, national organizations specializing in providing services to sexual assault victims, national consumer protection organizations, national travel organizations, labor organizations representing flight attendants and pilots, state and local law enforcement agencies, airports, and air carriers.
For ACPAC, Chao has selected Pete K. Rahn, Maryland's secretary of Transportation, as the state or local government representative and committee chair; Frances Smith, adjunct fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, as the consumer representative; Patricia Vercelli, general counsel of Airlines for America, as the airline representative; and Mario Rodriguez, executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, as the airport operator representative.