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Wheelchairs by air
Originally published:  01/05/2012
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has issued a fourth addendum to the Technical Instructions, 2011-2012 edition. The addendum deals with the carriage of battery-powered wheelchairs and other mobility aids by air and provides clear instructions to air operators, ground staff and airport personnel of the proper means of protecting such articles becoming a hazard during flight.
ICAO’s changes have been prompted in particular by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which has had to respond to a number of incidents involving battery-powered mobility aids in recent years. This past March CAA issued a Safety Notice (SN-2012/003) that reminds those involved in the movement of such items of their responsibilities, and also the need for travel agents, tour operators and individual travellers to ensure that adequate instructions are provided to those who need to make battery-powered items safe for transport. In particular, CAA says:
Before an electric mobility aid is loaded, an aircraft operator must satisfy itself that the mobility aid has been made safe in accordance with the ICAO Technical Instructions. Where an aircraft operator is unable to be satisfied or where it in fact establishes that the electric mobility aid has not been made safe, it must not carry it. In such circumstances the aircraft operator is not under an obligation to render it safe.
The airport operator may not know how to make safe every type of electric mobility aid it is presented with. To enable airport operators to fulfil their responsibilities for preparing electric mobility aids for safe carriage, it is essential that aircraft operators seek information regarding the electric mobility aids used by their passengers and pass this on to airport operators. Having received such instructions, where by making reasonable efforts the airport operator is able to make an electric mobility aid safe for transport, and in any event where a PRM provides adequate information on how to achieve this, the airport operator must make the electric mobility aid safe for transport and arrange for confirmation to be communicated to the aircraft operator.