For more than 20 years, Thomas King Associates (TKA) has specialised in the supply of onboard use aircraft wheelchairs for handling passengers with reduced mobility (PRM).
CEO of TKA, Duncan King, believes there is a growing need for airlines to be able to assist a PRM to access their seat on-board the aircraft and for longer flights to be able to access the lavatory. In order to do this, a special wheelchair, sometimes known as an aisle chair, is required.
“The whole area of PRMs has been very topical in recent years and there have been several pieces of legislation that have driven airlines to adopt wheelchairs on board aircraft,” explains Duncan.
“So, clearly there’s been a sea change since I started the business 20 years ago. You would have found wheelchairs on widebody aircraft, but not so many on narrowbody aircraft. While it’s still not mandatory today, you will now find onboard use wheelchairs on both narrowbody and widebody aircraft.”
TKA offers a product called the Travel Wheelchair through the UK-based company Gerald Simonds healthcare, a specialist distributor of wheelchairs and mobility equipment.
The Travel Wheelchair is the world’s lightest and easiest to use aircraft wheelchair, only weighing 5.5 kg/12 lb. in standard form.
It is fully customised for aircraft use and has very compact dimensions for stowage. It is available in two width versions: 35cm/14” and 40cm/16”.
The 40cm version is limited to use on Embraer E-jets due to their very wide aisles. For all other aircraft types (narrow or widebody), the 35cm version is the perfect solution.
Duncan explains that limited stowage space is an on-going challenge for airlines as to where to put and how best to stow cabin equipment. The compact dimensions of the Travel chair allows it to be stowed in a number of locations including overhead bins, wardrobes, dog houses and galley inserts.
TKA has supplied the Travel chair to more than 100 customers worldwide, including airlines, MROs, lessors and parts distributors. The company supplies to many major airlines across the globe.
Aircraft wheelchairs are commonly found on both narrow and widebody aircraft.
Duncan notes that there are two key legislations covering Europe and the USA. Namely, EC1107/2006 and FAA 382 DOT. The Travel chair meets the requirements of both authorities plus other countries operating with their local CAA regulations.
The Travel chair is widely used on regional aircraft as well as bigger aircraft such as Airbus and Boeings. Usually, if the aircraft has 60 seats or more, it will have a wheelchair as part of its cabin equipment.
The Travel chair can offer airlines a significant weight/fuel burn save of up to 8.5 kg (18 lb.) per aircraft. This is compared to traditionally heavy style aisle chairs. For large airline fleets, this can be a real benefit in reducing operating costs.
Duncan explains that “often airline customers need a degree of customisation of the wheelchair and this can include additional restraint belts, custom stowage bags, brand logos and other modifications”.
Having a wheelchair on-board the aircraft can help towards aircraft turnaround times and giving valuable assistance to PRM passengers who need help.
To find out more, visit tkassoc.com.