The importance of crashworthiness and the role of restraint systems in occupant impact protection in U.S. civil aircraft design is being increasingly recognized. Current estimates of the number of fatalities which could be prevented annually in survivable accidents range from 33 to 94%. This study reviews the development of existing Federal Aviation Administration restraint system standards from the first requirement for safety belts in the Air Commerce Regulations of 1926 to present 14 CFR 1.1. The FAA and industry standards are critically evaluated for Parts 23 (small airplanes), 25 (air transports), 27 (rotorcraft), and 29 (transport category rotorcraft). State-of-the-art developments, including an overview of previous accident experience, results of experimental studies, comparison with other standards, and primary data sources are provided. It is concluded that both FAA standards and manufacturers restraint protection in most U.S. civil aircraft are far below that presently provided by other federal standards or available in state-of-the-art technology.