Showing posts with label Genny airport. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Genny airport. Show all posts

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Flying with your Genny

Genny is a great travel companion. It will get you places you may not have the energy to access without it and with such a great range on a battery charge it can replace a hire car to some extent. And what style, it will raise eyebrows and get you into many interesting situations and discussions  

We know however that going anywhere with a wheelchair may have additional considerations and getting your wheels into the air can be quite an ordeal. With a motorised chair the issue is more than likely to be about the batteries

Genny comes with 3 batteries. The first is a small 12 volt old school lead-gel battery like you would get in a small motorcycle. The other batteries drive the Segway and are a pair of 5.2 Ah, 73,6  volt Lithium-Ion batteries made with 92 cells each. Lithium batteries have proved unstable under certain conditions and there have been fires on planes because of them. As far as I am aware Segway batteries have proven safe

The movement of lithium by airplane is governed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations. If your wheelchair is powered by lithium batteries the details are covered in their "Battery Powered Wheelchair and Mobility Aid Guidance Document (updated 2021)" This document is definitely your friend. Print it out and always carry it with you when flying. I also keep a link on my phone just in case. Many times I have needed to resort to this document in discussions with ground operations representatives at the departure gate. I have also spoken to several pilots who have always supported my transportation when referencing the IATA regulations

The issue is that everybody and his mate has an understanding of what the regulations state. From the staff at check-in, the disability advisors on the phone, to the captain, all have their own interpretation and most of it is negative. The word Lithium is a red flag in aviation so have the IATA guidelines printed out and at hand

Once you get past the lithium issue there is another specific design floor with Genny that will also cause havoc. I have several "Acceptance for Travel Guidance" documents that are available on my RESOURCES page that give Genny flying instructions. The problem bit is with the small control panel that puts your legs down. After activation the lights on this unit stay on for up to 8 minutes. This is 8 minutes with the ground operations team twiddling their thumbs and waiting till the lights go off. It is also 8 minutes with you in your aircraft seat watching out the window as they all have a play trying to make the lights go out. Every time someone touches these switches, the 8 minute counter is reset and starts again

Legs down switch control panel

I have 2 solutions for this issue. The first is a small plastic food container that has been adapted to fit the control panel. The switches are then protected and beyond reach of impatient baggage handlers   

Switch protection using a modified food container

The second and much better option, is to fit an additional switch into the 12 volt battery lead that completely isolates the Genny power source. This is a fantastic modification that instantly puts Genny to sleep to the delight of the ground operations crew. This is obviously not an official Genny modification but will greatly assist in airport situations. I have this hidden under the seat and directly above the battery as shown below. Anyone with a simple understanding of electricity would be able to install something like this and it sure beats trying to convince people to wait the 8 mins till the lights go out by themselves. It also helps with children who just can't resist pushing buttons. If you want more details of this solution please leave me a message in the comments space below 

Battery isolation switch (home made)

Another very useful addition is some small wooden inserts I have fabricated. These fit into the side handles that you lower if using a sliding board or to put the legs down in emergencies. These are visible in the following photo and are held in place by 3 cable-ties. I use these just in case a loader accidentally operates these handles. With the legs down Genny is very difficult to move and every time it is lifted, the legs come out more, making it even harder to move. If you want the pattern for these please leave me a message in the comments space below. This would be a good item to get 3D printed      

Inserts that stop the handle operating accidentally

Bon Voyage