Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering alumnus Gary Weissel has been selected to participate in the National Academies of Sciences, Transportation Research Board's committee for the Study on the Feasibility of In-Cabin Wheelchair Restraint Systems.
A 1993 grad, Weissel is also a member of the Aerospace Engineering School Advisory Council (AESAC) and the managing officer of Tronos Aviation Consulting, Inc. (TAC), Weissel will begin a two-year assignment with the committee in February.
The committee is tasked with examining the design, engineering, and safety requirements for installation and use of restraint systems and for the wheelchairs that would be used as seats in aircraft, including aircraft structural requirements, wheelchair occupant restraint and passenger emergency evacuation requirements, and injury criteria limits for both wheel chair users and occupants of seats behind and adjacent to the wheelchair users. The committee will also address the implications of the findings from these assessments on Federal Aviation Administration regulations and policies for airworthiness, crash worthiness, and other safety requirements.
The study team will evaluate what can be done to improve accommodation of wheelchairs on-board including the use of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems so that disabled passengers could remain in their own chairs during flights.
Weissel will help to gather data, arrange presentations from industry stakeholders, solicit public comments, and develop the final analysis and report.
"A motorized wheelchair, with someone in it, can easily weigh as much as 500 pounds, so finding a feasible solution presents some pretty substantial engineering, economic, and even cultural challenges for the industry," said the Massachusetts native. "There are many challenges ahead in this study. I'm humbled and excited to be a part of this team."