D4E1 Vliegtuigzetelhulp

Introduction: D4E1 Vliegtuigzetelhulp

Sofie, aged 26, dreams of flying to Barcelona since she was 20, just to be able to visit part of her family living overthere.

Because Sofie suffers from spastic tetraplegia, she uses an adapted wheelchair. Not having any trunk stability, makes her slide from any normal chair. She’s not able to sit upright in a standard airplane seat by using the standard seat-belt.

To meet her wish to fly, we searched and developed together with Sofie, her mother and her assistants, for an ideal tool where her comfort stands on top. We did this, taking into account the safety rules from the airplane company.

In order to be handled easily by her assistants, the tool had to be compact, easy to install and easy to store.

After some brainstorming, our idea was to make a cover of cotton. The cover should fit easily on the standard airplane seat. On this cover, a five-point belt is fixed.

The 2 belts, going over the shoulders of Sofie are connected with the original seat belt from the airplane seat. Everything is additionally fixed with push buttons.

The external seat is approximately 20° higher on the front, making it impossible for Sofie to slide out. For the additional safety we added a spool to be fit between her legs.

To strengthen the trunk stability of Sofie we provide a trunk support which can be attached to the armrest. Using this support, Sofie is able to sit upright during the flight.

A nice added value in this tool, is that the described cover can be rolled up and stashed away inside the pillow. Not in use, and everything stashed away, the tool is carried as a backpack.

Meet Sofie in this video:

To see how to install the chair watch this video:


This instructable will explain how we made the product for Sofie. You can easily made it your self, we will explain every step to make it.

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Step 1: Materials & Tools

In this step we will discuss all the materials we used and a short explanation is given for every product or tool.


For the external seat:

  1. 3 Panels of multiplex ( 500mm x 500mm x 6mm )
    The wood has to be strong and light.
  2. Foam covered with canvas.
  3. 4 Lashing straps ( 2,5 m x 25 mm )
  4. Belt buckle
  5. Press buttons

For the cover:

  1. Cotton ( 2 m x 1,5 m )
  2. 2 Lashing straps ( 1,5 m x 3 mm)
  3. 1 Lashing straps ( 2,5 m x 25 mm)
  4. Belt buckle
  5. Press buttons


  1. Laser cutter
    ( you find the files below)
  2. Sewing Machine
  3. Glue
  4. Hammer

Step 2: Preparation Before Assembly


We use the laser cutter to make the shape for the seat and spool.

Files for multiplex:

You fid the files below. These are available in various formats for each option:

  • Illustrator (editable)
  • PDF
  • EPS

Step 3: Assemble the Seat

We made the seat as comftable as possible.

  1. Thinking about how the seat cushion will be looking like. (think about measurements, parts, connections…).
  2. Drawing the different parts in illustrator. In total there will be 5 parts; the upper side, the bottom, two sides and one extra piece (the same as the two sides) to firm the cushion.
  3. Having the parts lasercut.
  4. If wanted, the parts can be painted.
  5. Adding the belts: Two belts on the sides to fasten the seat on the already existing airplane chair. Two belts on the bottom of the seat to carry the chair on your back. You can connect the belts to the wood with glue and make it stronger with screws.
  6. Assemblling the different parts and connecting them with glue.
  7. Measuring where the spool has to be on the seat. The spool is made of massive wood (so it’s strong enough). With glue, the spool can be added to the seat.
  8. After this, the seat cushion is ready for use. But if wantedn ik can be finished a bit more. We have made a cushion to make the flight more comfortable. The cushion is connected with Velcro to the seat.
  9. The empty space in the seat will be used to put away the cover while you’re transporting it.

Step 4: Assemble the Cover

  1. Measure the right size to cut te cotton, you can cut it in 1 long piece and 2 little pieces.
  2. Sew them together.
  3. Measure where the lashing strap has to come en sew it on the cotton cover.
  4. Hang the belt buckle on the lashing strap.
  5. Cut a square and push the press buttons in the cotton square.
  6. Sew the square on the other end of the lashing strap.
  7. On the back of the cover you can (opptional) hang a lashing strap to tighten the cover over the original airplane seat.

As an extra we bought a neckpillow for Sofie the gives the comfort while flying.

Step 5: Extra Request

The last time we went to sofie, we tested the chair. She was enthousiast about everything, she even sat straight (what is very difficult for here). But to make it more comfortable, she asked us to add something that supports the trunk stability.

Step 6: Result

This cover and seat will now help Sofie for travelling with an airplane. Now she can sit straight up and enjoy her flight to Barcelona.

We are verry happy that we made this possible for Sofie


Special thanks to: Sofie De Schryver

Project made by: Delphine De Backer, Manon De Backer, Lisse Demey and Daphne Roelants

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    3 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Great job doing all the research for this to be approved for flight. That is a lot of work in itself. Also, great job making Sofie's dream come true.

    Alex in NZ
    Alex in NZ

    1 year ago

    Helping Sofie stay upright in a chair is impressive enough, but doing it so that it can be accepted by airlines is just amazing. Well done, and safe journeys to Sofie.

    Thank you for sharing this project :-)


    1 year ago on Step 6

    that is awsome and for her dream to come true even better well done and good on you all