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A new prototype could allow wheelchair users to fly in their seat

The design could be a game-changer for airlines and a huge improvement in terms of accessible travel.

The Air4All seat could enable travellers to fly in their own wheelchair.

A UK-based consortium has unveiled a prototype air seat which will allow travellers in powered wheelchairs to remain in their own seats for the duration of a flight.

The consortium, known as Air4All, converts a standard passenger seat into a space for wheelchair-bound flyers where they and their chairs can be suitably restrained with belts similar to those used by all passengers.

Unveiled last week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, the patented design from Air4All includes a headrest and access to centre console tray tables to allow service to passengers still in their chairs as the existing seat folds up and fully integrates with the backrest, creating a space for powered wheelchairs to slot seamlessly into place.

New Airplane Seat Concept "Air 4 All" May Democratize Air Travel For  Wheelchair Users - Assistive Technology Blog

The product, which has been under development since 2019, also features a flexible design also allows airlines to retain the style of their cabin throughout the aircraft.

While the product itself doesn’t have a name as yet, members of the consortium include Delta Flight Products – a wholly owned research and development subsidiary of Delta Air Lines established to reimagine aircraft interiors. Also onboard is British-based aircraft seat design firm PriestmanGoode, SWS Aircraft Certification, Flying Disabled and Sunrise Medical.

PriestmanGoode Director Daniel MacInnes said the seat will also facilitate a seamless boarding and disembarkation process for People with Reduced Mobility (PRM).

Design flexibility would allow airlines to retain cabin design aesthetics.

“Offering equal access to comfort, safety and dignity for all passengers has always been our objective for Air4All,” said MacInnes

“We want to see the PRM community enjoy the benefits of Air4All – hence the progress made through the new partnership with [Delta Flight Products] is significant in bringing that closer.”

Flying Disabled Founder Chris Wood said he believes the product provides an optimal solution for all parties and that it has taken a collaborative effort to develop.

“An innovation like this in air travel provides those with reduced mobility a safe and comfortable way for them to travel and remain in their own power wheelchair,” Wood said.

The seat is now undergoing final designs and certification before an extensive testing program. With Delta onboard as a partner, it’s anticipated the seat will soon be trialled on selected routes before potentially being rolled out across the fleet, however no timeframe for this has been earmarked.

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Written by: Matt Lennon
Published: 9 June 2023

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