Design of an adjustable aisle wheelchair for in airplanes

While passengers with disabilities sometimes had to crawl (!) into the airplane in the past, airports make use of so-called aisle chairs nowadays. These are narrow wheelchair that fit on the aisle between the airplane seats. Although the aisle chairs have been quite an improvement, they remain a necessary evil for many passengers. And, for the accompanying personnel, a lot of improvements are possible as well.

Extensive user research with passenger and operator

How can a wheelchair add up to the passenger’s comfort in such a narrow airplane aisle (commonly only 33 cm wide!)? And, how can the aisle chair result in less lifting for the airport operators? In a project for Special Mobility, Studio Rotor reviewed the boarding process for wheel chair users and developed an improved aisle chair.

Passenger wants comfort, operator wants to decrease physical load

In an extensive research under operators, passengers and other stakeholders, several important issues came forward. It showed that the seat of the aisle chair could result in decubitus and that the knees and feet of passengers were barely protected during the ride through the aisle. The operator doesn’t get away with it any easier: it occurs quite often that two operators have to lift a 100+ kg passenger from the aisle to the window seat. While the surrounding airplane seats are obstructing the lift.

The result: safer, more comfort, less physical load

The result of the project is the Boarding Mobby, an aisle chair where the operator can lift the passenger up with a kind of barberchair mechanism. This enables passengers with enough arm-function to climb over the arm rest of the airplane chair themselves. Passengers without arm function can be lifted much easier by the operators. Examples of other improvements are: a longer foot rest with vertical sides to protect passenger feet, an anti-decubitus seat, automatic seatbelts that can be fastened without body contact and folding leg rests for passengers with their leg in plaster.

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Studio Rotor’s involvement: problem analysis, extensive user research, ideation, concept design, supervison of engineering.

Client (external link):
Special Mobility