The State of PRM Accessibility in Single Aisle Commercial Aircraft 2013-01-2309
The aging of the world population, and call for greater equality in access to public environments has led to an increase in design for persons with reduced mobility (PRM).
There are numerous physical and operational constraints and parameters to overcome when designing a successful and marketable PRM environment. Each program evaluates what is to be considered reasonable based on these guidelines (cost, weight, manufacturability, airframe curvature, footprint required, regulations, and usability). However, there are other less tangible parameters to address. For example, what level of dignity or level of privacy does the PRM environment allow? Does the design require additional assistance to access, or can those who are able make independent use of the environment?
Most aircraft manufacturers and design entities have recognized the need to improve accessibility aboard single aisle commercial aircraft (Airbus 320 family, Boeing 737, Embraer 190, Bombardier CSERIES). Current efforts are a step in the right direction, but significant effort and continued improvement is required to accommodate the mobility impaired segment of our travelling public.
There is a preconception that design for mobility impairments is costly, takes up a lot of valuable space, and is considerable effort for a relatively small segment of the travelling public. In reality, there are real benefits to be realized for providing environments able to accommodate a greater percentage of the population.
A significant competitive advantage is likely to result from design for PRM accessibility. Operator choosing to consider this growing segment of the population will benefit, as news (both positive and negative) travels extremely fast in social media circles.