Aerocon Engineering has developed for the Boeing 737-700, -800 and -900 a replacement forward airstair that the Van Nuys, Calif.-based company says is not only 50 percent lighter but also more reliable and requires less maintenance than the standard OEM equipment.
The new airstair is the culmination of a 24-month government contract. Aerocon CEO Benny Younesi expects an FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) in the middle of this year, and production has already begun.
Approximately 200 pounds lighter than the original airstair, the replacement will move the center of gravity aft for what is traditionally a nose-heavy aircraft.
Aerocon was founded in 1982 and has developed an extensive line of similar airstairs for everything from the BBJ to executive variants of the Boeing 747 and the Airbus ACJ330. According to Younesi, the company even produced a custom airstair for the owner of an executive Lockheed C-130.
In addition to its production airstairs, Aerocon is developing a line of electrically operated passenger and cargo lifts that are fitted to the airstair. The first Aero Lift passenger variant has already been certified and installed in an Airbus A340-500.
Currently being fitted is a more luxurious executive lift that is wider and covered to protect occupants from weather. Still in development is an even more elaborate Aero Lift. It also has a hard top, as well as entry doors, a seat and a dedicated cargo container.
The Aero Lift has a 500-pound weight capacity and is stowed in its own cargo container with the automatic hoist system. It operates off the aircraft’s 28-volt DC power system, has a dedicated control panel and emergency backup, and comes in a variety of colors. It can also be adapted for loading and unloading stretchers.