Airport Mobility Solutions

Category: Airport Mobility Solutions | 05/12/2006 - 09:07:32

In 1989 the company established the very first exclusive service of its kind to the aircraft industry when it began assisting passengers with restricted mobility at Schiphol Airport Amsterdam.

The company's mission is to continually improve the design and development of its equipment and services. Xpiration's products and materials are above all environmentally-friendly and adhere to the following criteria: safety, security, comfort, mobility and suitability.

In fact, very little has changed over the past 20 years since the coming into existence of Xpiration from the perspective of the airport authorities insofar as the entire process of assisting passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) at airports is concerned.

During this period it is true that special equipment and chairs have been developed, however, the PRM's still has to be physically moved from his or her wheelchair into the aircraft seat, which has its consequences (resulting in adverse effects).

Xpiration has been constantly researching possible technological solutions and utilities which would reduce physical exertion to a minimum and therefore simplify the work being undertaken. At the same time such utilities would offer more comfort and security for the PRM's during their movement at airports.

Xpiration has designed a special chair, known as the "XPBoardingChair" whereby the PRM's can be lifted from his or her wheelchair without physical exertion and transported to his or her seat in the aircraft into which he or she is then placed.

The XPBoardingChair has already been tried and tested at a number of European airports in moving PRM's within the departure zone. The findings are that the XPBoardingChair is an excellent piece of equipment for moving PRMs into and out of an aircraft, necessitating only minimal physical effort on the part of the airport staff.

The advantage with this method of assisting PRM's is that there is hardly any physical contact between the airport employee and the passenger, who is not pushed and shoved in the process, and the possibility of accidents or other unpleasant occurrences arising, are completely eliminated.

It should be emphasized that the XPBoardingChair cannot be utilised at all points of departure at airports; the determining factors being the space available and access to the aircraft. However, Xpiration has alternative solutions at its disposal in such exceptional cases.

Alongside transport within the airport terminal and from the gate to the aircraft other possibilities need to be considered, i.e. bridging the gap between the tarmac and the aircraft. It is not possible for all PRM's to exit via the gate on departure.

In such cases alternative means of transport and equipment already in situ, and designed for other purposes than transporting people, could be used. A change needs to be brought about here.

PRM's are sometimes transported on a stairlift up the temporary stairway when boarding an aircraft. This method can be problematic as it is neither comfortable nor is it entirely safe for the PRM or the aircraft assistants who are subjected to undue physical stress.

One of Europe's bigger international aircraft companies has realised this and has asked Xpiration to design an affordable lift system for PRM's, which can service the current range as well as future generations of aircraft.

Research is currently being carried out on a trial model of this specific type of platform lift, which can reach to height of 10 metres. In addition a special stair lift to enable wheelchair passengers to board and disembark an aircraft is also being designed.

Very soon Europe will need to re-think its stance on legislation and regulations on the one hand. On the other, are suitable materials and equipment on hand to ensure departures happen more smoothly than we have been accustomed to until now?

There are various regulations in existence in Europe concerning the restrictions applicable to lifting and the legal maximum weight a person is allowed to carry. High on the agenda in America and England are the laws and regulations governing equal rights for PRM's, their ease of access to public buildings, public transport and airports and that these are all within the scope of their reach.

Existing government agencies in Europe and beyond will need to establish, in the foreseeable future, the measures to be adopted governing the methods used, to ensure that the physical lifting of PRM's is the exception, rather than the rule.

Xpiration's aim is to further improve its range of specially-designed products and services to the highest possible standard, in keeping with its principles of attainability and accessibility. The company will continue its efforts to develop other means of conveyance for PRM's, alongside its current range of products, to enable those with reduced mobility to move more freely from one place to another.

Rob Jacobs.