In providing an experience to passengers that is as positive and enjoyable as possible, our start point has been to ensure that the design of the 12000TD accounted for the comfort and inclusivity for all persons of any ability on board. One of the toughest parts of a journey for passengers is often the embarkation where in older craft, getting on board across an elevated, cold, wet side deck and through a bulkhead door to the seating arrangement can be awkward, solitary and sometimes intimidating. The legacy use of a stand‐alone, dedicated wheelchair lift to overcome the obstacles has been shown to accentuate the differentiation between the able‐bodied and those coping with adisability.
As hovercraft are not confined by the sea or shallow water, terminals on land can be used. Whilst docks and sea platforms are able to be used for hovercraft, as they are for boats, the 12000TD boarding process removes the awkward over water traversal from piers, jetties, or pontoons and gives all passengers the inclusive extra level of ease, comfort, speed and safety.
Access to the 12000TD hovercraft cabin space has been designed and proved in service to be streamlined for functionality and comfort. The craft is fitted with two configurations of bow ramp to allow for a quicker transfer of passengers from land to the passenger cabin; one side is fitted with a ramp and handrail for ease of wheelchair users, whilst the other has been fitted with steps which was found in studies to be preferable for those with crutches or walking aids. All users are hence able to gain dignified access and egress through the wide aisles to their airline style seating or their wheelchair seating positions.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explains, "Hovertravel is committed to access for all and our hovercraft were designed to be fully inclusive, making the excitement of a hovercraft flight a reality for any passenger, regardless of any impairment or reduced mobility."
The 12000TD is currently in use by passenger operator Hovertravel which provides the fastest service between the South Coast of England and the Isle of Wight. Hovertravel can provide additional assistance to any passenger who may need need support and all staff are fully trained to help when required during their travel. Hovertravel even provides visual and information screen services for those who are hard of hearing and can accommodate the guide dogs of the visually impaired.