London Gatwick Airport has acquired a new passenger lifting facility, Eagle Hoist 4, to help transfer wheelchair-bound passengers onto commercial aircraft safely.
Over the next 12 months, the airport is also set to invest in two specialist hoist-assisted toilet facilities, each of which would feature a height-adjustable, adult-sized changing bench for people with learning and physical disabilities.
Provided in addition to standard disabled toilets, the new hoist-assisted toilets and changing facilities will help passengers with spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis.
With an aim to offer improved accessibility to disabled travellers, Gatwick Airport also intends to invest in two new sensory rooms that would provide assistance to passengers with sensory processing difficulties, such as autism, brain injury and dementia.
Gatwick Airport Autism ambassador Maria Cook said: “Airports are stressful environments for many people with a disability and these new facilities will greatly improve the airport experience for those needing to use them. They are a necessity, not a luxury.
“Today's announcement is also a fantastic way to mark the first anniversary of the Hidden Disability Assistance Programme.
“It is vital that we keep accessibility issues front of mind and by showcasing what we are doing here at Gatwick we hope that this will encourage other airports and transport providers to step up and continue to drive the necessary changes and improvements as well.”
The airport aims to construct a new sensory room in each of its terminals in order to help enhance the mental or physical wellbeing of passengers.
The sensory rooms will be developed to block out noise and control space, temperature and lighting to stimulate the senses, promote pleasure and feelings of well-being.
Based on the requirements of the passengers who use them, the rooms can be transformed from a calming and soothing place to an exciting and engaging interactive area full of light and sound.
Image: Aerial view of Gatwick Airport. Photo: courtesy of Gatwick Airport.