The public briefing will illustrate the findings of the final report by The Transportation Research Board (TRB), of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Surveys indicate that a significant number of wheelchair users still consider flying something impossible to access. Their set of needs requires them to remain in their personal wheelchairs, something impossible to achieve in today’s air travel framework.
“The inability to use one’s wheelchair on airplanes makes air travel very difficult, if not impossible, for many people with disabilities. Among other challenges, it requires multiple transfers between boarding chairs and aircraft seats, posing injury risks.” Said the United States Access Board. “To address these challenges, the U.S. Access Board commissioned a study to assess the feasibility of equipping aircraft with securement systems so that passengers can remain in their wheelchairs on flights.”
Whilst this report is the first of its kind on this topic, more work will need to be done before passengers will be able to fly whilst remaining in their wheelchairs. Safely securing the wheelchair to the cabin floor is just one of the many requirements to achieve full accessibility in air travel.
Cabin floors will need to be reinforced, cabin interiors redesigned, access doors will require special ramps to prevent unintentional damage that could
compromise the aircraft structure and cabin pressurization.
However, there is a shortcut to bring the future closer, and wheelchair manufacturers hold the key to this. Only just recently manufacturers understood the need to make their products airworthy. This realization is in its infancy, but concepts and prototypes are already being developed of what could be the real game-changer in this race towards fully accessible air travel.
“The momentum to finally make aircraft wheelchair accessible has really taken shape,” Says Chris Wood MBE, founder of the U.K.-based campaign Flyingdisabled
. “It is well known that technically this can be done, by the end of the year a solution will be in place driven by the industry, an industry now very keen to put its house in order across a wide spectrum of access issues.”
Public Briefing on Wheelchair Securement Systems on Aircraft
September 22, 2021, 1:00 – 3:00 pm (U.S. Eastern Time)