Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) is to become the first airport to trial the PaxLift XL, the new purpose-built PRM transporter from Italian manufacturer, Baumann.

The machine is the first GSE machine of its type to overcome the disadvantages of traditional modified ‘Ambulift’ vehicles.

Arriving in time for the peak travel season, Düsseldorf’s PaxLift XL will help take the strain of an increasing number of passengers requiring assistance, amongst the 23.5 million boarding passes processed every year.

Raising passengers smoothly to six metres and without a pantograph, stabilizers, mast or chains, the PaxLift utilises three lifting columns to provide a smooth, safe lift, with fully hydraulic suspension for maximum comfort during driving.

DUS prides itself on catering for types of passengers. All departure areas, including the airport train station, are designed to be accessible for passengers with disabilities. Elevators and ramps ensure that passengers will have no problem accessing the different levels in the building. All facilities such as restaurants, restrooms for passengers with disabilities and baby changing rooms are also wheelchair accessible.

“This is an important area for DUS, and one which we are keen to demonstrate our excellent PRM credentials,” says airport branch manager, Markus Daniels. “We are constantly looking at ways to improve both our service provision and efficiency. Naturally, we are delighted to be working on this project with PaxLift, and see excellent potential. We believe we can significantly reduce the total cost of ownership as well as improve maintenance, product life cycle and passenger comfort.”

Despite being the third largest airport in Germany, space efficiency is vital to DUS and PaxLift offers excellent use of space, allowing passengers to enter at ground level without stabilizers or the need for a secondary tailift.

PaxLift has also avoided the inherent problems associated with adapted PRM vehicles, such as chain maintenance, slow loading times and uncomfortable, often manually intensive, experiences for passengers. There’s also complete free movement with the cabin raised.

“We have developed close ties with Dusseldorf, and we are very pleased to see our first machine going into service there,” says Baumann managing director, Klaus Pirpamer. “Together we saw the value in something which offers easy access and great manoeuvrability to reach the airplane door, as well as being fast, great quality and reliable.”

The in-house design team first developed and produced a machine for PRM over a decade ago. In recent years the company has won awards and recognition for its innovation in the sideloader market, where turning circles, lift heights and travelling distances are also key product facets.

Technical director, Riccardo Bove, masterminded the company’s latest award, the 2016 FLTA Award for Innovation Excellence, and helped develop the new thinking behind the PaxLift. Says Riccardo: “Our previous experience in aircraft ground support and our work with industrial equipment gave us the insights to design the next generation ‘Ambulift’. One that gives precise control and maximum comfort within a small footprint – just 2550mm wide, and 3,100mm high  when travelling.”

“The evolution of PaxLift was a natural consequence of our earlier work in this field,” adds Klaus. “We began collaborating on ground support equipment when we worked with Lufthansa Leos and Catcon to produce the first sideloader-based trucks. Whilst this type of equipment is still on the market, our experience with raising and transporting materials led us to look at new and better ways of providing safer, smoother and more practical ways to transport PRM and VIP passengers.”

With a proud and distinguished history, combining generations of engineering expertise, modern craftsmanship and a spirit of innovation, Baumann believes their equipment has to present a high standard of quality. Standard trucks are fitted with a Stage 4 Final Diesel engine, electric trucks are also planned for next year.

“Our starting point for the PaxLift was comfort, convenience and reliability,” says Klaus. “Having exhibited at ground support equipment and airport passenger transport events on both sides of the Atlantic, the dedicated design and high lifting capacities (up to 2,000kg) has created surprisingly high interest. With a tighter turning circle, clearer view and smaller footprint, we believe we have the safest option available. Integrated suspension makes the operation fast and smooth, whilst the hydraulically powered steering axle ensures continuous reliability and performance.”

This year DUS airlines will fly to over 190 destinations in 50 countries. Among the 66 air carriers, several have new routes or increased frequency. Markus Daniels adds: “Düsseldorf long ago arrived on the world map of international air traffic. Pushing forward with new initiatives and improvements like this helps us continue our own journey and help our customers in the process.”