delta debuts foldable seat that allows people with reduced mobility to sit in their wheelchairs
In 2021, designboom reported the consortium Air4all – formed of PriestmanGoode, Flying Disabled, SWS Certification, and Sunrise Medical – would design a chair system that could enable wheelchair users to remain in their seats the entire flight. Now, Delta Air Lines has picked up the proposal and is gearing to fit a foldable seat inside its airplanes to allow wheelchair users to just roll and attach their powered chairs to the back post of the cabin seats.
The first full prototype is set to be unveiled at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2023 (AIX) in Hamburg between June 6th and 8th, 2023. Operating under the airline's subsidiary Delta Flight Products (DFP), the wheelchair-friendly prototype is dubbed a first-of-its-kind airplane seat since the design can let travelers who use a powered wheelchair stay in their own wheelchairs for the entire journey. DFP has partnered with UK-based consortium Air4All on the seat, and PriestmanGoode is the design lead in the consortium.
The prototype design follows its cues from the foldable chairs found in cinemas but with metal legs. When folding it up, all the parts of the legs get inserted and concealed into the bottom part of the chair to save space and make way for an unobstructed shape. The powered wheelchair then is positioned until it locks up through the latch-like system attached to the cabin's floor. The lock-and-go mechanism makes it easier for the users to attach and detach their wheelchairs on and off the cabin.
images courtesy of PriestmanGoode and Air4all
The patented design of PriestmanGoode offers comfort and safety for all passengers by providing access to headrests, center console tray tables, and cocktail tables that adjust to serve passengers with wheelchairs in place. The revamped system also enables Delta Air Lines to retain the design of its airplane cabins on every seat. Following the exhibition, the seat is slated to be sent for final design and validation and to be followed by testing and certification programs to begin installing the design once certified.
Rick Salanitri, President of Delta Flight Products, says that the consortium Air4All is collaborating with DFP's production and manufacturing capabilities to explore ways to deliver equal access to comfort, safety, and dignity for all customers. ‘This patented design offers new possibilities for customers in wheelchairs to enjoy a travel experience they truly deserve,’ he adds. Daniel MacInnes, director of PriestmanGoode, states that ‘we want to see the PRM community enjoy the benefits of Air4All – hence the progress made through the new partnership with DFP is significant in bringing that closer.’
the seat folds up to make way for the powered wheelchair
powered wheelchair with access to headrests and tray tables
the latch system is attached to the cabin's floor
view from above
name: Foldable seat for wheelchairs
airline: Delta Air Lines
partners: PriestmanGoode, Flying Disabled, Sunrise Medical, SWS Certification