New Air-Chair could revolutionise travel for disabled people

A group at the American University of Sharjah has designed a chair that could make air travel for disabled passengers a whole lot easier.

The 'Air-Chair' is a narrow motorised chair that can fit down the aisle of an aircraft, and can slide onto an existing passenger seat - meaning there's no need for the person to have to get in and out of their wheelchair during boarding, disembarkation or during the flight.

It's said to act in a symbiotic relationship with the existing aircraft seat and allows space for access to the life vest, and it also provides access to the inflight entertainment system.

New Air-Chair could revolutionise travel for disabled people
Photo credit: Air Chair

In the airport, the air chair can be used like any ordinary wheelchair. It can either be driven using its onboard motor, or pushed manually.

Currently, it's common practice for disabled passengers to use a wheelchair in the airport until they get to the aircraft door, when they're then shifted to their seat on the plane as the wheelchair is taken away and stored.

Using an Air-Chair would mean the passenger could stay in the same seat from the moment they arrive at the airport until the moment they leave the airport at their destination.

The Air-Chair was runner up in the international category of the recent James Dyson Awards for innovation.

Its designers received just over NZ$13,000 in prize money to further invest in their idea.