By Robert C. Grant

The new Bombardier CSERIES aircraft is due to make its maiden flight this July 2013. What makes it different from the numerous aircraft currently in service today? It was designed from the inside out with the physical accommodation of the traveling public being a critical starting point. It represents the first time an aircraft manufacturer began to design the interior of a single aisle aircraft with Persons with Reduced Mobility being considered from day one, rather than being viewed as a last minute sprinkling of assist handles and wheelchair placards.

The CSERIES design team view reduced mobility, not as a special case requiring specialized design. Instead they see mobility impairments as part of the normal range of human mobility, which extends from childhood through to advanced age, and encompasses all of life’s experiences, that fall in between. In many cases, the only thing separating those with mobility impairments from those with normal mobility are a single miscalculated step in front of a bus, or that ski trip that went a little sideways. We need to start designing meaningful mobility solutions into our transportation systems. At some point in each of our lives, we will all need this kind of design consideration.

What constitutes an accessible/adaptable aircraft lavatory? The first answer to this question is an element of dignity and privacy. No one wants to go to the washroom with a curtain pulled around them. The CSERIES PRM lavatories are able to accommodate a 95th percentile occupant while sitting on an aircraft aisle chair with the door completely closed. Next, no one likes to be made a spectacle of. The CSERIES PRM washrooms are stand-alone units, meaning, there is no complicated reconfiguring for the cabin crew to conduct, and no other aircraft washrooms are taken out of commission to be able to provide access, as found on many competitor aircraft. Some innovative engineering has gone into all CSERIES lavatories. Systems normally found under the counter-top have been either condensed, or relocated all together to provide under-counter leg space for people requiring the use of a wheelchair. This provides better access for independent transfers and puts all passenger interfaces within easy reach. Other features include: a dedicated transfer handle, in-mirror lighting, mirrors low enough to provide visibility from a wheelchair, and a large window to provide natural light.

All PRM design features aboard the CSERIES family of aircraft have been designed with valuable input from a very knowledgeable user group from the Quebec Adaptive Sailing Association (Association QuŽbŽcoise de voile Adaptee; AQVA). Their participation was critical to the successful design of many accessible features aboard the CSERIES aircraft. Designers and engineers attempt to anticipate the needs and requirements of persons with reduced mobility, but it takes the participation of someone who lives with impairment to truly inform the design process. Please visit www.cseries.com to learn more.