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Air Carrier Access Act 2023: Meeting the DOT Requirements for Onboard Wheelchairs

October 17, 2023
Regulations

On 1st August 2023, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a final ruling to amend the Air Carrier Access Act regulation to improve the accessibility of lavatories on single-aisle aircraft. This amendment aims to remove transportation barriers and promote freedom to travel for people with disabilities. Under this new ruling, all US airlines and all foreign airlines flying to or from the United States must comply with specific requirements concerning onboard wheelchairs.

Information regarding specific accessibility requirements for airlines has historically been difficult to obtain, but airlines now have specific guidelines for choosing an onboard wheelchair to serve their fleet. In this blog post, we will examine these requirements and how the Airchair not only meets but, in some cases, exceeds them.

What are the latest ACAA requirements for onboard wheelchairs?

  1. “The on-board wheelchair must be manoeuvrable both forward and backwards through the aircraft aisle by an attendant.”
    The Airchair has four swivel locking castors that allow for easy movement and a 360-degree turn radius within the confines of an aircraft.

  2. “The height of the on-board wheelchair seat must align with the height of the aircraft seat to facilitate a safe transfer between the on-board wheelchair seat and the aircraft seat.”
    The Airchair is designed so that the seat of the wheelchair aligns with the aircraft seat to make transfer easier.

  3. “The on-board wheelchair must have wheels that lock in the direction of travel and that lock in place to permit safe transfers. Any other moving parts of the on-board wheelchair must be capable of being secured such that they do not move while the occupied on-board wheelchair is being manoeuvred.”
    The swivel castors on the Airchair do not lock while it is being moved. This design feature allows the Airchair to be easily manoeuvred around the aircraft, even with a heavy passenger seated on it. Locking either the front or rear castors would hinder its movement. However, each castor can be locked during transfer to prevent the Airchair from moving at all.
  4. “The on-board wheelchair shall be designed not to tip or fall in any direction under normal operating conditions when occupied for use.”
    The Airchair has a sturdy frame shaped like an ‘X’ to prevent toppling over. However, it is recommended for use only on aircraft.

  5. “The on-board wheelchair must have a padded seat and backrest and must be free of sharp or abrasive components.”
    The Airchair is designed for comfort and safety, with a padded seat and backrest and no sharp or abrasive components. We take pride in manufacturing an exceptionally high-quality product.

  6. “The on-board wheelchair must have arm supports that are sufficiently structurally sound to permit transfers and repositionable to allow for unobstructed transfers; adequate back support; torso and leg restraints that are adequate to prevent injury during transport; and a unitary foot support that provides sufficient clearance to traverse the threshold of the lavatory and is repositionable to allow for unobstructed transfer. All restraints must be operable by the passenger.”

    The Airchair has the following features:
    • Side restraints that can be folded away to make transferring from one seat to another easier.
    • The back support is sufficiently high to provide good support.
    • Waist and thigh belts are included to make passengers feel more secure. A chest belt can be fitted, too.
    • The folding footrest is lowered once the passenger is seated on the Airchair and folded away when they transfer from one seat to another. The footrest is designed to ensure it doesn’t interfere with any floors or lavatory thresholds.
    • The passenger can operate all the restraints.

    Additionally, the Airchair has a folding backrest to make the transfer from one seat to another even easier for the passenger and ensures those assisting can support the passenger more easily. This feature also makes it easier to position the Airchair in a lavatory.

  7. “The on-board wheelchair must be manoeuvrable in a forward orientation partially into at least one aircraft lavatory to permit transfer from the on-board wheelchair to the toilet.”
    The Airchair can be easily wheeled into or out of a lavatory, with the option to reverse it into the lavatory when the backrest is folded.

  8. “The on-board wheelchair must be manoeuvrable into the aircraft lavatory without protruding into the clear space needed to close the lavatory door completely.”
    Depending on its orientation, passengers can keep the Airchair with them while using the lavatory.

  9. “The on-board wheelchair must prominently display instructions for proper use.”
    The Airchair comes with instruction labels and an Operations Manual.

Have you considered the Airchair?

The Airchair complies with, and in some cases, exceeds, the Department of Transport regulations and is already the plane wheelchair of choice for many of the world’s leading airlines. In addition to these specifications, the Airchair weighs only 6kg (13lb) and has a carrying capacity of up to 250kg (550lb), helping airlines reduce unnecessary weight onboard. Once folded, its compact size means that it can be easily stored in an overhead locker or a dog box and doesn’t need Form1 approval to be implemented onboard.

For more information about the Airchair and how it can help your airline meet the conditions stipulated in the Air Carrier Access Act, get in touch with us here.

Source:
Accessible Lavatories on Single-Aisle Aircraft (2023) Federal Register. Available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/08/01/2023-16178/accessible-lavatories-on-single-aisle-aircraft/