“With this design, the idea is they bring their own wheelchair on the plane, they lock into place and they fly in their own wheelchair,” said Hank Scott, the Founder of Molon Labe Seating.
The company has already tested seats to FAA standards for a design that can slide toward the window. Underneath the seat near the aisle is a Qstraint wheelchair docking system.
“This invention, I love seeing it,” said Curt Wolff who was paralyzed in 2012 from West Nile Virus. “I could get in there, there was room to get in there, it locked in place no problem, it took 30 seconds instead of an extra half an hour to get on planes.”
“In normal flight, an airline would charge a little bit extra, not business class but economy class, if people want to use these seats at the front of the aircraft. And then when it’s required for a wheelchair, we slide this seat over the other. It’s a fully functioning, economy class, wide seat and the space behind can secure a wheelchair,” Scott said.
Wolff says he flies about five times a year. He has limited movement of his hands and no movement of muscle groups below his neck. It frequently takes several people to lift him into an airline seat. Then he’s concerned as his chair is taken into the cargo area of the plane.
“Almost every time something happens,” Wolff said. “Always a fear of breaking my wheelchair in some manner, because those are my legs. I don’t have an alternative. It has to work when it comes back off the plane.”
Scott is launching a crowd-funding campaign and hopes #flyingwheelchairs will become a viral sensation. He believes a grassroots campaign will inspire airlines to implement the invention into planes sooner. More engineering and testing is needed.
“If we crowdfund it, we get to reach out to a lot more people who can then go to regulators and airlines, in whichever country they’re in, and say ‘There is a solution that will allow me to fly.’ This is part of it,” Scott said.