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Airbus A380 auf der Farnborough International Airshow © AIRBUS GROUP 2016 - photo by H. GOUSSE / master films

Airbus develops cabin solution for wheelchair users

Airbus developing barrier-free, on-board toilets in co-operation with Elbe Werkstätten - design stems from HAW

The Hamburg-based Airbus is working on a cabin solution making it easier for people with limited mobility to use on-board toilets, a press release said on November 4. A cantilever-style chair on wheels with a specially shaped seat means that a chair can be rolled over the toilet so that the passenger does not need to transfer. The on-board wheelchair’s design is based on a concept by the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW). Airbus’ ProtoSpace operation, that provides the environment, means and tools to develop disruptive concepts and accelerate innovation, has provided support for prototyping.

Test phase in Rapid Architecture Lab

The cabin mobility innovation has emerged from a workshop focusing on the experiences, requirements and the requests of wheelchair users at Elbe-Werkstätten, which specialises in creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Members of the project developed a working prototype of the chair, which requires no structural changes to the aircraft lavatory, in just three weeks. Airbus Cabin & Cargo Engineering department created the design while the ProtoSpace team supplied the technical prototyping knowledge. Apprentices and trainers at Airbus produced the demonstrator.

Later, wheelchair users from Elbe-Werkstätten tested the wheelchair using the lavtory mock-up by the Airbus Rapid Architecture Lab. The users were delighted and praised the easy to handle design, its stability and safety.

Positive feedback from U.S.

The wheelchair also met with positive feedback when it was presented this summer at a conference on new aircraft standards hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Hans-Gerhard Giesa, Head of Human Factors & Operations at Airbus, said: “Participants from the government, airlines, aircraft manufacturers and organisations representing people with disabilities were impressed at how quickly Airbus produced a prototype, and that wheelchair users contributed directly to the design.”

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