Delta Flight Products (DFP) and Biogen collaborate on accessibility

Posted: 12 June 2024 | | No comments yet

Biogen and Delta Flight Products (DFP) are collaborating on accessibility innovations, inspired by passengers’ experiences.

delta flight accessibility

Delta Flight Products (DFP) and Biogen Inc. have announced that they are collaborating on accessibility efforts for passengers with reduced mobility. Approximately 5.5 million individuals rely on wheelchairs for mobility in the U.S., according to USDOT.

“Cure SMA and the SMA community have been advocating to make air travel safer and more accessible for individuals with disabilities, especially passengers who use a power wheelchair. We are grateful that Biogen and Delta Flight Products will help raise awareness about the experiences of those traveling with reduced mobility and develop possible solutions to help them travel with ease. This is a meaningful step toward allowing a passenger to use their own wheelchair as their airplane seat,” said Kenneth Hobby, President, Cure SMA.

By connecting with individuals who are living with rare disease mobility restrictions at community events, listening and learning about their travel experiences and needs, Biogen and DFP aim to better comprehend the experiences of passengers with reduced mobility and identify gaps in accessibility. This information will hopefully inform future innovations and tools, aiming to create a more equitable flying experience.

“Biogen has long championed independence for people living with rare, neuromuscular diseases, which is why we are passionate about helping advance travel accessibility for individuals with reduced mobility,” said Kristen Fortino, Head of the U.S. Rare Disease Franchise at Biogen North America. “We are honoured to introduce Delta Flight Products to the communities we serve and work together to better inform innovations that are equitable to travellers of various abilities.”

The first activation of the collaboration between Biogen and DFP will occur at Cure SMA’s 2024 Annual SMA Conference taking place 6-9 June 2024, in Austin, Texas. Insights gained from patients and advocates will be summarised and shared publicly with the community.

During the event, people living with rare neuromuscular diseases will have the opportunity to learn about DFP’s first-of-its-kind airplane seat prototype that aims to allow customers to remain in their own wheelchairs for their entire journey, as well as other DFP advancements, including cargo storage improvements designed to better protect mobility devices that need to be stowed. DFP’s innovative seat was brought to reality in partnership with UK-based consortium AirforAll, which includes PriestmanGoode, Flying Disabled, SWS Certification and Sunrise Medical.

The seat converts a standard passenger seat to an accommodation for wheelchair restraint and the patented design offers comfort and safety by providing access to headrest, centre console tray tables and a cocktail table that adjust to serve passengers with wheelchairs in place. The seat earned the Airline Passenger Experience (APEX) 2024 Innovation Award for Best Cabin and will go through testing and certification programmes with the Federal Aviation Administration for review later this year.

“We understand how important it is to have a seamless travel journey, which is why we’re dedicated to the creation of new possibilities for customers with disabilities,” said Rick Salanitri, President, Delta Flight Products. “Through this unique opportunity with Biogen, we are continuing to inform and expand our efforts to create a world that is more inclusive and accessible for all.”

During the Cure SMA Annual Conference, Biogen and DFP encourage members of the rare disease communities to share their experience and insights on accessible travel on social media using the hashtag #2024SMAConference.

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