June 6, 2023
Source: Aviation A2Z
Delta Flight Products, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines (DL), has partnered with the UK-based consortium Air 4 All to introduce an innovative cabin seat option designed specifically for wheelchair users.
Presently, individuals using powered wheelchairs are required to utilize wheelchairs provided by the airline. While navigating airports and boarding airplanes.
This process involves multiple transfers from one chair to another, including wheeling down the jet bridge before eventually being transferred into a regular seat.
The airline usually inspects and stows the passengers’ personal wheelchairs in the cargo hold. Still, unfortunately, there have been numerous cases where these mobility devices, often customized and of significant value, have been damaged or broken during transit.
According to the Air Travel Consumer Report of the US Department of Transportation in February 2023, a staggering total of 11,389 wheelchairs were mishandled by US airlines in the year 2022 alone.
In order to mitigate the associated risks, Delta and Air 4 All are determined to eliminate the existing procedure by introducing a new solution that enables passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) to remain in their own wheelchairs throughout the entire journey, from curb to curb.
Although a functional prototype will be unveiled at the Aircraft Interiors Expo on June 6, it is important to note that the seat still needs to undergo certification and testing before it can be implemented in actual aircraft cabins. Take a moment to explore the design.
Award Winning Chair
The Air 4 All system has been developed to enable wheelchair users to travel onboard commercial aircraft using their own wheelchairs without compromising the seating capacity of airlines.
The consortium responsible for the design includes PriestmanGoode, SWS Certification, and Flying Disabled.
This launch coincides with the 35th anniversary of the Air Carriers Access Act, which was passed by the US Congress in 1986 to ensure consistent and nondiscriminatory treatment for individuals with disabilities when traveling by air.
The Air 4 All system operates similarly to passenger cars’ ISOFIX/LATCH standards. It involves an installation and attachment mechanism that allows both the airline seats and wheelchairs to be securely installed within the aircraft cabin.
This system is designed to facilitate certification for various types of powered wheelchairs. Enabling them to interface with a wide range of airline seats. When wheelchair access is not required, the seats can function as standard airline seats.
According to Paul Priestman, designer and Chairman of PriestmanGoode, the introduction of Air 4 All represents a transformative milestone for the industry. It finally provides all passengers equal access to comfort, safety, and dignity.
Historically, the primary obstacle has been the concern that accommodating passengers in wheelchairs would reduce seat capacity. Subsequent revenue loss for airlines.
However, Air 4 All effectively addresses this issue. Additionally allows airlines to maintain the design of their cabin across all seats. Further ensuring consistent branding and a unified experience for all passengers.
With Air 4 All, the boarding and disembarking process for passengers with reduced mobility (PRMs) will become more seamless. While also significantly decreasing the incidence of wheelchair damage resulting from inadequate handling.
According to Chris Wood MBE, the Founder of Flying Disabled, Air 4 All is the pioneering system that has been created through a collaborative effort involving a design agency. A certification body and valuable input from the disabled community.
The project has received support from a prominent global wheelchair manufacturer. Further from a major airline subsidiary, it is a truly collaborative endeavor.
The team is actively engaged with all relevant stakeholders. Including initial discussions with key National Aviation Authorities. To ensure that the solution is aligned and suitable for its intended purpose.
The aim is to enhance the travel experience for passengers with severe disabilities significantly. Thereby improving accessibility and inclusivity in air travel.