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NEW AT NEWCASTLE: TOM ALLETT LOOKS AT THE FIRST OF A NEW GENERATION OF AMRULIFTS.

Newcastle International (IATA: NCL) has become the first airport in the world to take delivery of a PaxLift, a new generation of ambulift.

Designed and manufactured by Baumann, the PaxLift is a purpose-built vehicle that allows passengers who have mobility issues to be transferred, with dignity, between the terminal and the aircraft.

For decades, some people with reduced mobility (PRMs) have reported being handled like cargo, finding the experience of travelling by air distressing and often humiliating. I can clearly remember witnessing such scenarios myself as a new ground handling worker in the 1980s, but the technology--and indeed the industry's mindset --has moved forward in leaps and bounds since then. This new vehicle was delivered in May.

The PaxLift is not derived from a commercial or industrial vehicle; it was designed as a PRM vehicle from the outset. It has been purpose-built to accommodate six wheelchair users plus six additional people. Its passenger cabin can be accessed at ground level, eliminating the need for any separate lifting, thereby improving efficiency and, hopefully, the passenger's comfort. The driver and passengers are able to see one another, creating a more personal, more 'taxi' and less 'cargo' like, experience.

The manufacturer said the PaxLift's design is such that the need for extended lateral movement is eliminated, thereby reducing the space required between aircraft while transferring passengers. It is also designed to manoeuvre safely at heights of up to 26ft (8m). In response to the latest Airport Handling Manual (AHM) from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which states that all ground support equipment machinery is to have a no-touch policy, PaxLift has become one of the first ambulifts with a system that does not come into contact with the aircraft it is working alongside.

It has four sensors which control the approach to the aircraft and stop the PaxLift once it reaches a safe position. An automated swivelling platform provides the access to the aircraft without touching it.

Bird's eye view

The Paxlift is fitted with automatic door locking, a bird's eye view camera that provides top-down, 360-degree visibility around the vehicle, integrated suspension and four-wheel steering, to create a compact footprint and small turning radius. It only requires one operator; there's no need for a banksman (observer). Newcastle's PaxLift was provided by the Multevo company and it has received a resounding vote of confidence from Stephen Wafer, the airport's head of security and terminal operations, who said: "The moment we saw the PaxLift we knew that as an airport we had to invest in one. Our reduced mobility passengers are important to us and we want to offer them the best travelling experience possible. PaxLift does this with dignity." He added: "Our relationship with our supply chain partner Multevo has been strong for a number of years, they introduced the Multihog product range to us and the rest of the UK market nearly ten years ago, so when they put their rubber stamp on the PaxLift, that gave us the confidence to move forward to become the first airport in the world to order one."

Klaus Pirpamer, managing director of Baumann, commented: "With the new upgrade to a no-touch system, we are achieving a safe and controlled position in relation to the aircraft. Passengers with reduced mobility can be safely transported to their seats without our machinery coming into unnecessary contact with the aircraft. We are pleased we can now offer a solution that fully aligns to industry-approved policies and standards for GSE and our team is committed to continuing to improve the PaxLift in line with the requirements of airports and airlines."
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Title Annotation:HI-LIFTS PAXLIFT
Author:Allett, Tom
Publication:Airports International
Date:Jul 1, 2019
Words:601
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