Airport orders special ramp for the disabled community |

Airport orders special ramp for the disabled community

Aspen Times Staff Report

The way people get on and off airplanes at Aspen’s airport is about to change.

The airport has ordered a Turbo Way, a 30-foot-long, covered aluminum ramp that can be rolled easily from the terminal to an airplane by one person. Airport director Peter Van Pelt describes the ramp as “an efficient device that will allow both ambulatory and wheelchair passengers to deplane and board rapidly, safely and with dignity.

“This is making our best effort to mainstream disabled people,” Van Pelt said.

The ramp is gradual enough so that hand-powered wheelchairs can be rolled up without difficulty.

The ramp is intended for permanent duty at the airport. The purchase was spurred by the upcoming Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Winter Sports Clinic, which will bring a large number of passengers in wheelchairs to Aspen in March.

“We may have as many as 200 chairs in a one-day period,” Van Pelt said. “We want to be up to speed and ready to help.”

The ramp is built of aluminum, open at the sides and covered by a canopy over its full length. It is light enough so that one person can easily roll it into position. Van Pelt said airport officials have made certain the device will roll properly with snow and ice on the runway.

Airport staff will use a small hydraulic pump to raise the ramp to meet the doorway of any aircraft at the Aspen Airport.

The airport will purchase the larger of two models made by Turbo Way. “This one is actually large enough to serve a 737,” Van Pelt said.

Turbo Way ramps are in use at more than 30 airports across the United States.

The airport will purchase one ramp and rent another with the option to buy the second ramp, as well.

“One costs $35,000,” Van Pelt said. “But it replaces a pneumatic device which cost $60,000 several years ago and was never satisfactory.”

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