Are there aircraft that are wheelchair accessible?
There are many aircraft which are wheelchair accessible. Most of them are large jets or above and have a straight aisle. If the jet has a zigzag aisle – like the Falcon 900 – it will be difficult to maneuver the wheelchair onboard the aircraft.
You’ll also need the right type of wheelchair, as many motorized wheelchairs won’t fit and can’t be collapsed. If this is the case, you’ll need a smaller, temporary wheelchair. Some aircraft operators have smaller wheelchairs that can be used.
Sometimes your aircraft will have a wheelchair lift. For example, some Challenger 601s have arms that come out when the door opens and lift the wheelchair up into the plane. If not, you’ll need an Ambulift.
An Ambulift is similar to a catering truck lift, but the person in the wheelchair rolls out to a platform at ground level first. The Ambulift raises the platform to the door of the aircraft. The wheelchair user can then be moved from the lift into the plane.
The same procedure is used when landing. Your broker can help arrange an Ambulift.
Can a pilot lift up a wheelchair passenger instead of using an Ambulift?
There is no way that a pilot can carry a wheelchair user onto the plane. It’s a huge safety risk. The passenger must be capable of making their way up the stairs, either on foot or via wheelchair. They cannot be carried.
The majority of wheelchair users are comfortable transferring from their wheelchair to the plane’s chair once they’re on board.
Advance notice must be provided to accommodate a wheelchair user. Let your broker know ahead of the flight and they’ll take care of it for you.
Is there an additional cost for the Ambulift?
In the United States and most western countries, there are rarely extra charges to accommodate disabled passengers. However, outside of the USA, Ambulifts can cost as much as $4,000 per use. One flight consists of two charges: $4,000 to enter the aircraft, and another $4,000 to exit it. Costs will vary depending on the country you’re in.
Can I bring an electric wheelchair onto an aircraft?
Electric wheelchairs can only be transported on certain aircraft. Of course, it will need to be a large jet or above. But it will also depend on several other factors.
Here are some things that affect whether you can bring your electric wheelchair on board:
- Weight of the wheelchair
- Is the wheelchair collapsible
- Type of battery required
Provide as much notice as possible for the highest chance of making it work.
Can I sit in my wheelchair during the flight?
If you’re a wheelchair user, you’ll have to sit in the aircraft seat for takeoff and landing for safety reasons. You’ll also likely be much more comfortable throughout the flight, as airplane seats are often made with more comfortable materials and padding than wheelchairs and offer increased leg room, plus safety belts. They’re also positioned in the best way for interaction between passengers.
If the aircraft is large enough, you should be able to store your wheelchair in the cabin storage area. This makes it easy to switch back to the wheelchair when needed.
Is the wheelchair owned by the FBO, the airport, or the passenger?
While airports and FBOs may offer use of wheelchairs at their facilities, most often passengers will use their own wheelchairs, so they’re available when leaving the airport and when they arrive at their destination.
Do certain airports or FBOs have an Ambulift?
Most high-density airports with a lot of traffic will own Ambulifts, but only certain regional airports have Ambulifts. And when it comes to remote airports, it’s best to assume that none of them will have an Ambulift.