Due to the world’s ageing population, and call in recent years for greater equality in access to air travel, there has been a renewed interest in aircraft lavatory design to cater to Passengers with Reduced Mobility (PRM). Although some of the current lavatories solutions are labelled “PRM capable”, the restrictive space in these designs makes it challenging still for PRMs to use the lavatories with ease. This has also prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to address accessible lavatories on narrowbody aircraft in 2020.
In order to provide PRMs with a better air travel experience on narrowbody aircraft, we have in partnership with industry experts, designed a lavatory which, through the use of a moving wall, can be expanded to offer PRMs a space 40 percent larger than a typical lavatory.
The additional space created during the crew-controlled expansion of the lavatory is large enough to allow a passenger in a wheelchair and a caregiver, if needed, to enter and use the facilities with comfort and privacy. It also means passengers no longer have to be transferred behind a curtain, providing them with the same level of dignity that every passenger deserves while using onboard aircraft lavatories. The design is able to achieve this while still maintaining the standard lavatory footprint – airlines do not have to alter their cabin layout or reduce seating capacity or galley space for its installation.
Patented and named ACCESS, the design aims to create an inclusive air travel experience for PRMs. Detailed research was undertaken during the conceptualisation and design process, with the involvement of suppliers and people with disabilities at a series of product testing sessions to provide feedback and help shape the final interior design.
In its unexpanded state, the lavatory can be used as normal and features a modern interior design that includes floor-to-ceiling strip lighting, vanity and full-length mirrors, anti-microbial work surfaces and touchless features, as well as anti-slip flooring and a range of grab bars.
The ACCESS Lavatory is currently in its manufacturing phase and is on track to be launched onto the market, via Supplemental Type Certification, by the end of 2021.
National para-powerlifter Kalai Vanen trying out a model of Access at the Singapore Airshow 2020