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Brazilian woman choses to crawl on plane to avoid airport manual handling

  • Written by George Sensalis

Last Monday, brittle bone disease sufferer Katya Hemelrjik da Silva crawled on board a Gol plane to avoid being manually handled by airport helpers.


People with brittle bone disease can easily suffer bone fractures because of their fragile or missing connecting tissues. There is no cure for the disease.


On December 1st, Katya Hemelrjik da Silva had to get on board a Gol airplane. But Foz do Iguaçu airport does not have air bridges or high loaders.


Mrs da Silva declined the offer of being lifted on board the plane. "Due to the lack of safer alternatives to board the aircraft, I had to use the stairs, because I was on the floor with no risk of falling, and the movements were under my control and I know my physical limits," she said.

The debate on pros and cons of manual handling of passengers with disabilities is an ongoing topic of conversation around the world.Katya Hemelrjik da Silva crawl stairs to board Gol plane Last week, A British retired Chief Superintendent of police wrote a letter to Lord Cotter voicing his disgust with the way airports help passengers with severe reduced mobility.


Mrs da Silva said she had no intention to complain about the airline and added that the crew was very helpful. But she voiced her utter disappointment at the airport’s lack of suitable means to help disabled passengers enplane and deplane airplanes.


The Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency is investigating the incident at Foz do Iguaçu airport. Gol Airlines and the airport operator Infraero have two days to explain ANAC the sequence of events leading to the woman having to crawl on-board the airplane.


In July2013, the Brazilian Civil Aviation Authority ANAC published Resolution No 280/2013 which sets new rules for transportation of passengers with special needs.


In an exclusive interview with ANAC, Reduced Mobility Rights discussed key elements of 280/2013, and the country’s airport infrastructure readiness for the upcoming 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


Do you need lifting when boarding a plane? Post your comments on Reduced Mobility Rights Facebook page or tell us your story using the contact form



I and my severely disabled wife wish to express our sincere gratefulness for the help and support this website gave us to enable us to reach a resolution with the air carrier.

John Greenwood.

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