In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the historic first-ever modified wheelchair-accessible flight on a plane designed with an elevator and enough cabin and aisle space to comfortably accommodate FDR and his wheelchair.
On May 31st, 2023, Delta Flight Products, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, announced it has teamed up with the UK-based consortium Air4All to develop a prototype of a specialized aircraft seat to allow passengers in power wheelchairs to remain in their chairs during the entire journey.
The revolutionary concept of Air4All, first unveiled in October 2021 by PriestmanGoode, Flying Disabled, SWS Certification, and Sunrise Medical, marks a remarkable milestone for air travel as it was previously unimaginable for those with wheelchairs to stay in them for a flight.
“DFP delivers highly engineered products and services to fill service gaps, solve operational challenges and transform the experience of customers and crewmembers,” said Rick Salanitri – President of Delta Flight Products. “Air4All is collaborating with DFP and our strong production and manufacturing capabilities to explore new ways to deliver equal access to comfort, safety, and dignity for all customers. This patented design offers new possibilities for customers with disabilities to enjoy a travel experience they truly deserve.”
Delta Air Lines has dedicated much time and energy to increasing the accessibility of air travel, always striving to innovate and improve. Working together with their established Advisory Board on Disability, Delta strives to create a better journey through improvements to aircraft, airports, procedures, and more.
Chris Wood MBE, the driving force behind Air4All and founder of Flying Disabled, noted that this innovative development in air travel gives individuals with limited mobility a secure and convenient method of journeying while staying in their own electric wheelchairs. “An innovation like this in air travel provides those with reduced mobility a safe and comfortable way for them to travel and remain in their own power wheelchair.”
A full prototype of this first-of-its-kind airplane seat will be showcased at the upcoming Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany. Subsequently, the seat will be sent for final design and validation. Testing and certification programs will then follow to put the new solution in service once certified.