Aviramp, an independent manufacturer of ground support equipment, has created an aircraft ramp that could also be used by disabled passengers.
The company has received over £600,000 in R&D tax breaks, according to business tax specialist Catax. The UK Government introduced R&D tax relief in 2000, R&D referring to work that addresses scientific or technological uncertainty.
Aviramp’s work in relation to a step-free passenger experience for boarding and disembarking an aircraft has resulted in the company earning £611,000 in R&D tax benefits.
Aviramp founder and CEO Graham Corfield said: “We had been aware of the R&D tax credit scheme before we embarked on this project but had no idea the benefits would reach this scale. It has made the development process far more cost effective than we could ever have imagined.
“We’re already planning to harness the scheme again in the future. It gives us more time and resources to put concepts through their paces and test their effectiveness.”
The company has developed mobile ramps, as opposed to steps, which can be driven remotely or as pushed by staff. An electric chest pack can be used to manoeuvre it and control the speed when approaching an aircraft. The ramps operate on their own power due to mounted solar panels.
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Aviramp increased the number of panels on each ramp and tested solar regulators that sit between the panel and the battery, controlling the charging process. Battery performance was tested at an airfield in the north of Scotland, where there was less light available.
To address the challenges caused by poor weather, such as the wind causing unstable structures, the engineers reduced the weight of the roof and the number of solar panels. The canopy was redesigned to maintain strength.
The firm has also developed advanced docking platform door seals and ensured that the ramp elevation would not disrupt the seal and the way it fit around the aircraft, using motors and gas structs. This will ensure passengers would not get wet in the rain.
Kully Nijjar, associate director of specialist R&D tax consultancy Catax, said: “Aviramp’s ramps are being adopted by airports around the world and giving them the chance to offer a more dignified service to those passengers with less mobility.
“This is a perfect example of how the R&D tax relief regime is supporting the development of new products that may not otherwise have hit the market so quickly, if at all.”