The Equal Skies Charter, a collaboration between a number of UK-based aviation organisations to improve the accessibility of the industry, has launched a new research project to investigate the experiences and opportunities for disabled employees in the aviation and aerospace industries.

The charter has released a questionnaire to organisations from across the aviation sector to gather data on the potential barriers facing disabled people working within the industry to inform the charter’s work going forward. 

Harvey Matthewson, the charter’s programme manager at Aerobility, one of the charities involved, said: “It feels great to have launched the first research project as part of Equal Skies. The charter would like to see more people with disabilities working in the sector. 

“We hope that the lived disability experience that the sector gains through this can be used to improve the experience of disabled service users. Essentially, we aim to change the industry from within. This is a huge aim that can only be achieved by working collaboratively and positively with the entire industry.” 

Focusing on the employment of staff with disabilities, the questionnaire asks businesses questions about the process they have in place for staff to disclose their disabilities, how confident their organisation is with assessing and meeting the needs of these employees and what would help them to improve accessibility in their business. 

The research will be used by the charter to gather the data necessary to further its mission of ensuring “that people with a disability have equal access to the benefits and opportunities provided by aviation and aerospace industries.” 

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Alongside the Aerobility charity, the charter includes a range of organisations such as NATS, Bristow, 2Excel Aviation, London Biggin Hill Airport, The University of West London, the UK CAA, Saxon Air, Blackbushe Airport and Evenbreak. 

The charter’s research project continues work by a number of organisations and governments to improve the accessibility of the aviation industry for both employees and passengers, with the UK Government recently announcing plans to provide greater compensation for wheelchair users whose equipment is damaged in transit. 

In the US, the Department of Transportation (DoT) has also just launched an awareness campaign, #AccessibleAirTravel, to ensure members of the public travelling with disabilities know their rights. 

Alongside producing an informational video about the Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights, the DoT is also working with airlines, airports, ticket agents and disability organisations to promote the video and its content.