Peter Axelson and Beneficial Designs were asked to participate in a committee coordinated by the National Academy of Science on the technical feasibility of non-ambulatory passengers traveling onboard aircraft secured in their personal wheelchairs. Sponsored by the U.S. Access Board, this report was completed in September of 2021 and presented to congress after a dozen meetings. Wheelchair test data from Beneficial Designs was critical in verifying the space that would be required to accommodate wheelchairs onboard aircraft.
testing boarding devices
Supported by the Paralyzed Veteran’s of America (PVA) research foundation, Beneficial Designs (BD) conducted testing from January 2015 to July 2016 on aircraft boarding devices regularly used to assist non-ambulatory passengers on and off aircraft. BD discovered that these devices are highly unstable and that 20 percent of users had fallen off or fallen over in them, resulting in injuries. BD determined that for passengers without sensation, sitting on the firm seating in commercial aircraft is dangerous and causes hospitalizations as a result of pressure sores. BD also learned that improved technologies are needed to assist non-ambulatory passengers on and off aircraft since many non-ambulatory passengers are being dropped, scrapped, and injured during the transfer process. The process of stowing wheelchairs in aircraft has destroyed many devices to the tune of millions of dollars in repairs and replacement costs for every major US Airline. This has also caused these passengers to be stranded without a functional wheelchair when traveling for work and pleasure.