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New stair lift takes passengers skyward

Heading for the skies - Morgan Callan tries out the new stair lift, helped by his mother, Mitzi Callan (left) and Edward Jerrard of Island Air.

It normally takes two burly security staff to carry wheelchair bound passengers onto Cayman Airways flights.

But now that indignity can stop thanks to the brand new Ambistair stair lift.

Morgan Callan, 24, was the very first person to try out the stair lift on the steps leading up to a Cayman Airways Jet.

The new equipment, purchased by Island Air, a handling company operating at Owen Roberts International Airport, is designed to help Passengers with Restricted Mobility (PRMs) to more safely and swiftly climb and descend stairs belonging to all the aircraft that visit the airport.

Kenrith McCoy, Senior Manager, Airport Operations, said: “Its been some years since we have been seeking to introduce a much safer and more comfortable way of planing and deplaning of PRM passengers due to various reasons, not least of which is the significant cost of such equipment.

“I would like to clarify that the airport is not in breach of a regulatory requirement, but certainly industry standards worldwide encourage and recommend that airports have suitable equipment for lifting PRM passengers.

Edward Jerrard, Safety Manager, Island Air described the benefits of the new equipment: “Why do we need this particular type of equipment? The most important consideration is safety, because lifting passengers up by wheel chair on the stairs, especially the bigger aircraft such as the British Airways 767, starts to become rather scary.

“As a result of that, the regulatory authorities around the world, including the representatives of people with reduced mobility, have been pressing the aviation industry to put something in place,”

Mr. Jerrard added that the main issues with regard to PRMs had typically occurred in smaller airports that don’t have passenger loading bridges.

“What we’ve tried to do here is provide a unit that makes the passenger feel they are part of the ‘Cayman feel’ the moment they have arrived…that they are ‘here on holiday,’ …and, ‘I am not suddenly somebody different.’” he said.

Mr. Jerrard stressed that passengers wouldn’t have to pay any charge for the new service.

Morgan’s mother, Mitzi Callan, expressed her appreciation of the development: “I was going to talk about how he feels cut off and how scary it is for him to be carried up the stairs. How scared I am not only for him, but for the people carrying him up the stairs…that’s an uncomfortable feeling…for the last 24 years, which is how old he is, that’s been my feeling as we leave the island.

“This piece of equipment offers a whole new focus on disabled person’s families so more people can enjoy the island…no matter what the disability, and I am very grateful.”



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