Most of us take flying for granted, but for passengers with reduced mobility, taking a plane can be quite a challenge. Nowadays, getting on and off an aircraft is a lot easier than in the past, but using the toilets is often a problem for wheelchair-bound passengers.
On wide body aircraft the lavatories have already been adapted to their needs but what is unprecedented is this new cabin design in the single aisle aircraft, like the Airbus A320 Family.
The new “space flex” design means the two toilets are now located at the rear, allowing for much more space.
Airbus Marketing Director Marc Muller explained how it works:
“You have two toilets, adjacent to each other. They are separated by a folding partition, which opens up and folds away completely. When you open up the two doors, you get a much wider space, which offers people with reduced mobility more autonomy, more space and more intimacy.”
And the extra toilet space doesn’t mean less seats in the cabin. In fact, with the toilets now located at the rear, up to six extra seats can be installed along with the facilities for people with reduced mobility. Three airlines with a total of 10 aircraft are flying with the space flex design and there are plans for another 500 to start operating with that configuration in the coming months.
Home-made flight simulator
Separately, in Slovenia a flight enthusiast has spent years and thousands of euros to fulfil his dream.
Using parts of an actual Airbus A320 airliner, 53-year-old electronics engineer Igor Perne managed to build a realistic flight simulator in his own home.
He purchased the written-off Cyprus Airways airliner back in 2011.
“I built my first wooden simulator over 10 years ago using as a model a life-size Airbus A320. Then I got a chance to acquire a real one from Ljubljana airport. I cut off the entire front section of the aircraft and re-assembled it. It took me about two and a half years to complete the project,” he says.
About 10 kilometres of wiring were needed to connect 300 switches and 250 indicator lights. Six computers run the simulator, while an overhead projector displays a 250 degree view from the cockpit. Perne takes his time in the cabin very seriously.
“It is really hard to distinguish virtual flying from the real thing,” says the flight enthusiast. “They are so similar that sometimes, when I am in flight, I just can’t bring myself to get out of the cockpit, not even to go to the toilet.”
The simulator cost Perne tens of thousands of euros to build, but he says he gets his money’s worth, as he uses it every day. And as it is based in his garden shed, one thing he never suffers from is jet lag.