While far from perfect, many forms of transport are now wheelchair accessible, save, perhaps for one. Aircraft remain the final frontier. While those of us with disabilities are allowed on flights, those who cannot leave a custom chair remain precluded, as standard aircraft seats do not always provide the right level of support.
I was heartened therefore to hear of the campaign by Michelle Erwin to change this. Michelle’s son, Greyson must always be in his own special wheelchair, so Michelle’s suggestion, to have a space for a wheelchair on a plane, is a simple one and now receiving serious airline industry interest. Members of The British Polio Fellowship with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) can often move from a wheelchair for the duration of a flight, but not all living with disability are so lucky. For them, no chair equals no travel.
Aircraft manufacturers permit internal layouts to be decided by the operator and a removable chair that accommodates a ‘wheelchair approved for flight’ should not see a loss of revenue – if the concept is factored into aircraft design and refits of existing planes. Aircraft seats must pass rigorous safety tests, so any wheelchair allowed on board would have to meet airline regulator standards to ensure safety levels are maintained. There is no reason why this cannot be the case. If the will exists among airline and wheelchair manufacturers to make it happen, we can literally, get this project off the ground.
Anyone who needs The British Polio Fellowship’s help can visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call
0800 043 1935.
National Chairman, The British Polio Fellowship