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Boeing unveils improved access features on the 787

When Boeing's [NYSE:BA] newest airplane, the all-new 787 Dreamliner, enters service in 2008, passengers will experience a more comfortable flight because of enhanced accessibility features.

"We analyzed accessibility issues passengers face on today's airplanes and incorporated advancements to better accommodate passengers of all ages and capabilities," said Mike Bair, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. "These advancements, coupled with the Dreamliner's larger windows, bigger carry-on bins, lower cabin altitude and cleaner air, will ensure that everyone enjoys a better flying experience on the 787."

Boeing partnered with the National Center for Accessible Transportation at Oregon State University to research accessibility improvements. As part of the research, Boeing engineers who design interiors were placed in simulated environments to better understand accessibility issues faced by persons with mobility, sensory and cognitive disabilities. In addition, the team worked with individuals with these disabilities to verify improvements.

Virtually all aspects of the Dreamliner's interior enhance passenger comfort. For example, all lavatories aboard the 787 Dreamliner feature universally designed interior and exterior door handles that are more intuitive and enable easier access by passengers with limited hand agility. Assist-handles installed in all lavatories are easier to grip and offer passengers better stability through improved design and location. "Touchless" features including faucets, toilet flushing and waste flaps can be activated by infrared sensors in addition to their traditional mechanical operation, making them easier to use.

Boeing is offering two wheelchair-accessible lavatories on the Dreamliner, each with significant advancements. The 56-inch longitudinal lavatory repositions the entryway door and toilet to provide extra usable space and makes it easier for passengers to reach and use the facilities.

A 56-inch by 57-inch convertible lavatory includes a movable center wall that allows two separate lavatories to become one large, wheelchair-accessible facility.

Other wheelchair-accessible lavatory improvements include an additional toilet flush button on the sink cabinet and a fold-down assist bar to aid independent transfers.

Additional enhancements are sprinkled throughout the airplane. Exterior assist handles are better positioned to accommodate passengers of all heights and levels of mobility. Overhead stowage bins are easier to reach, and latches work whether they are pushed or pulled, eliminating uncertainty. Bigger closets are offered that enable personal wheelchair stowage in the passenger cabin, while special closet features will better secure the wheelchair. As on current airplanes, aisle seats will have movable arm rests that offer passengers with disabilities easier access to their seats.

"Boeing is making an ongoing effort to identify opportunities to improve the flying experience," said Bair. "The 787 Dreamliner will set a new industry standard for accessibility on airplanes."

Press release issued by Boeing Commercial Airplanes on March 26, 2007


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