Eagle lifting device for wheelchairs

Eagle 2 is an innovative lifting device manufactured for Air New Zealand by a company specialising in lifting solutions for wheelchair users who are unable to self transfer.

The lifting service is available for domestic and international jet services only, from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin airports. We will need at least 72 hours' notice to access an Eagle lift from our ground handlers in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. If you are unable to provide 72 hours' notice we will make every reasonable effort to accommodate you.

Due to the layout of the Business Premier cabin the Eagle 2 is not able to be used, however on flights to/from the US our staff are able to perform a transfer using specially designed slide board, slide belts and a slide sheet

The process

The Eagle 2 is used to lift customers (using a sling) from a wheelchair. Staff then use the Eagle 2 to negotiate the aircraft aisle, straddle the aircraft seat and lower the customer into the seat. It has a certified passenger weight limit of 200kg. The transfer process from wheelchair to aircraft seat is a four step process.

1) Sling placement

A staff member will assist you to position the lifting sling while seated in your own wheelchair. This will generally occur at the airport gate, or just inside the aircraft door for privacy. If required, we will assist you to lean forward to enable the sling to be positioned behind your back, and under the buttocks. Then two leg straps cross under your legs, keeping your knees together to ensure you remain well supported when lifted and better assist with navigating the aircraft aisle. The leg straps are coated with Teflon, to assist with placement. An upper body strap is available to offer additional support. When using the lifting device, the wearing of shorts or long trousers is recommended for dignity and comfort.

2) Aircraft transfer

Inside the aircraft entrance, the Eagle 2 device will be positioned to allow your wheelchair to be guided underneath the lifting frame (blue). The wheels on your chair and the Eagle 2 are locked in place and a special stability leg is extended. The sling is then attached to Eagle 2 in four places. Two at the rear and two at the front of you. The front straps (lifting your legs) can be height adjusted for your comfort. The electric motor will lift you and your wheelchair will be removed.

3) Aisle transport

The lifting frame is swivelled 90 degrees, so you are now facing toward the cockpit. Then two staff will guide the Eagle 2 device down the aircraft aisle, to your seat. The device will transfer into seats on the right hand side of the aircraft aisle only.

4) Seat transfer

Your seat will be reclined slightly and the armrest raised. (The armrest may also remain down for the transfer in some cases). The device will then straddle your seat and the lifting frame will gently lower you into the seat.

Questions and answers

Q: Will my motorised wheelchair fit within the Eagle Lifting device?
A: The Eagle Lifting device's width can be adjusted to suit most wheelchair types.

Q: Can I stay in my wheelchair up until the aircraft door and have my wheelchair brought to the aircraft at the destination?
A: On most occasions, if this service is requested, we can provide it. At airports where there are no air bridges, you may be asked to use an airport chair. The Eagle Lifting device may be used to transfer you from your chair to an airport chair.

Q: Is the sling placement and transfer into the aircraft seat done in privacy?
A: Sling placement will be performed inside an empty air-bridge or similar private area. We will board you prior to general boarding of passengers. Only staff will be on the aircraft at this time.

Q: Why do you recommend that I wear shorts or long trousers?
A: During the sling placement process, there will be contact with your legs and under your knees. This recommendation is for your personal privacy. A female or male staff member may be requested to position the sling should you have a need or preference.

Q: What happens at a remote gate, when there is no air bridge to the jet aircraft.
A: At a remote gate, (where there are stairs up to the aircraft from the tarmac) a high-lift vehicle or forklift platform will be used to transfer you into the aircraft.

Q: Can I board the aircraft earlier?
A: Yes. To ensure a private transfer, you will be given a slightly earlier boarding time.

Q: Should I request the Eagle Lifting device when I make my booking on a jet aircraft?
A: Yes. If you are booking through an Agent, please request the Lifting Device directly. If booking online please choose the "wheelchair - require Eagle Lifting device" option when displayed in the special assistance options.

Q: Can I use a support person to transfer, rather than use the Eagle Lifting device?
A: Yes. The Eagle 2 device is merely another transfer option for you. If you have a support person, capable of performing an upper body lift, this is a valid option also. Cabin crew will assist with the transfer of your legs.

Q: What aircraft seating is available?
A: If the Eagle Lifting device is used for your transfer, you must be seated to the right hand side of the aircraft aisle (as you are looking towards the cockpit). Our staff will ensure you have an appropriate seat.

Q: Is there any extra restraint/support for my upper body?
A: Yes, if required we have a comfortable strap that wraps around both you and the sling, just below the armpits, during the transfer. The aircraft also has an upper body harness for your use during the flight. If the upper body harness is required during the flight please be sure to request it in advance.

Q: What about neck restraint during the transfer?
A: We also have available an attachment for added neck stability and comfort.

Q: Do the slings come in different sizes?
A: Yes. Large (L), Medium (M) and Small (S).

Q: Will the slings be clean?
A: Yes, the slings will be frequently laundered by Air New Zealand and are checked for serviceability and safety before each use.

Q: Why is the Eagle 2 not used on smaller regional aircraft?
A: Due to the limited space and accessibility issues on regional aircraft the Eagle 2 is not suitable.

Q: What is the weight limit of the Eagle Lifting device?
A: The device is certified to carry passengers weighing up to 200kg.

Q: Is the Eagle Lifting device available during the flight?
A: No the lifting device is based at some airports and can not be stowed on board during a flight.