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Products and solutions, 2015-09-10, 10:01 AM

ThyssenKrupp and Brussels South Charleroi Airport establish a first for Belgium in easing airport access for passengers

A permanent stair lift was installed on the mobile aircraft stairs which provide passengers access to the plane, allowing people with limited mobility to easily board and disembark the aircraft. Brussels South Charleroi Airport has installed 12 stair lifts and is planning to increase this number in the following months.

Every year, Brussels South Charleroi Airport welcomes about 6.5 million passengers and this number is rising every year. Unlike other airports, Charleroi does not have passenger boarding bridges that connect the airplane to the terminal. Instead, mobile stairs are used, which are driven to the airplane. However, for people with limited mobility – such as elderly people, pregnant women, and those in wheelchairs or in plaster casts - it is not so easy to get in and out of the aircraft. In line with the philosophy of the airport – to be fast and efficient – they opted for permanent stair lifts on the mobile stairs. “We are certainly not the biggest airport in Belgium, but we want to be the best in terms of client service. We aim to be fast and efficient and all these elements should also be valid for people with limited mobility. Hence, the decision to install permanent stair lifts on our mobile stairs, and today we are the only ones in Belgium offering this service,” explains Vincent Grassa, spokesman for the airport.

Result of common efforts
Although the airport believes it has a social responsibility to ensure that people with limited mobility also enjoy a carefree and pleasant travel experience, the airport did not take rash decisions. All aspects were discussed in detail and thoroughly tested before the final decision was taken. After a first encounter with the stair lift in the ThyssenKrupp showroom, a demo stair lift was installed on a mobile staircase at the airport for two months in order to test the efficiency and user-friendliness in all weather conditions. The test was positive, and the airport then decided to purchase 12 Levant Outdoor stair lifts.

The installation is the result of a constructive collaboration between the engineers of ThyssenKrupp and the airport. The Levant Outdoor is usually mounted on a fixed staircase, but at the airport it had to be fixed to a mobile vehicle. As a consequence, a number of technical challenges arose: where would the stair lift get its electrical power from, since it is usually powered by loading points and electricity? And given its mobile application, the stair lift could not be mounted from the ground – as usual – but only from the first (high) step. The question was how to bridge that first step for people with limited mobility? To power the stair lift, ThyssenKrupp found a solution in the battery of the car that moves the stairs. In close collaboration with ThyssenKrupp, Brussels South Charleroi Airport also developed a foldable mechanical step, allowing the user to safely step off the mobile stairs at a relatively limited height. The stair lift and the mechanical step can easily be folded up after use.
Stephan Hillaert, CEO of ThyssenKrupp Encasa is delighted about the collaboration: “Developing innovative solutions for people with limited mobility is our core business and yet, every installation is unique, as not one staircase where our stair lifts are mounted is the same. At the airport we had to face some extra technical challenges, but I am pleased and proud that our engineers, together with those of the airport, have been able to come up with innovative solutions.”

The mobility solutions of Encasa make ThyssenKrupp a market leader in chairlifts, platform lifts and Home Elevators. ThyssenKrupp conceptualizes, designs and installs individual customer solutions. ThyssenKrupp will be present at the inter airport, the world’s premier airport exhibition in Munich, Germany, from October 6 to 9 at Hall B5, Stand 1070.

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