HAMBURG, GERMANY (June 14, 2022) – Collins Aerospace has teamed up with researchers and students at the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University to develop the Fly Your Wheels Suite concept, a certifiable design allowing passengers to travel on board an aircraft using their own power wheelchairs without eliminating existing seats. Fly Your Wheels Suite is a finalist in the University category of the Crystal Cabin Awards.
The Fly Your Wheels Suite design re-engineers the left closet near the front door of a single aisle aircraft into a safe and functional suite for a passenger traveling on a wheelchair. Requiring a one-time modification, the suite enables both forward and rear-facing orientations, depending on the occupant’s preference. If unused, the suite can easily transition back into a functional closet or even an area where crew can relax.
“Helping enable air travel for passengers of all mobilities is an imperative for the entire air travel industry and one we are eager to continue collaborating on with our partners,” said Luis Gomez, virtual engineering manager for NIAR. “That we might be able to provide a safe, interactive and spacious solution for wheelchair users, allowing them to board, deplane and travel as any other passenger is an incredible opportunity.”
Fly Your Wheels Suite minimally impacts existing seating arrangements and cabin cargo space, effectively adding an extra passenger to an aircraft’s load. While in use, the cabin cargo volume taken by the added passenger in a Fly Your Wheels Suite is given back by two forward upper monument stowage spaces, known as bustles, providing an equivalent amount of storage as an unmodified closet.
“The addition of another passenger combined with the suite’s inherent flexibility is an incredible innovation and key differentiator of the Fly Your Wheels Suite project,” said Glenn Johnson, technical fellow of industrial design at Collins Aerospace. “This project really underscores the world of possibilities available when combining the considerable body of knowledge from NIAR with the industry expertise of Collins Aerospace.”
Winners of the Crystal Cabin Awards will be announced Tuesday, June 14 at a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany.
About Collins Aerospace
Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies business, is a leader in technologically advanced and intelligent solutions for the global aerospace and defense industry. Collins Aerospace has the extensive capabilities, comprehensive portfolio and broad expertise to solve customers’ toughest challenges and to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving global market. For more information, visit CollinsAerospace.com.
The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University provides research, testing, certification and training for aviation and manufacturing technologies. Established in 1985, NIAR has a $190 million annual budget; a staff of 1,100; and 1.6 million square feet of laboratory and office space in six locations across the city of Wichita, the Air Capital of the World.
About Wichita State University
Wichita State University serves as the Kansas urban-based research university, enrolling more than 16,000 students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven. Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.