Rebuilding passenger trust will be central to the aviation industry’s recovery efforts, and this will mean significant changes to the user experience.

Aviation has long been a driving force in user experience design, arguably beginning with the birth of the study of ergonomics from the realisation that hundreds of wartime B-17 Flying Fortress crashes were caused by the landing gear and flap controls being identical. Emergence from lockdown gives us another opportunity to take meaningful strides forward, and to design for the new normal in transportation. 

Some initiatives will be focused generally on passenger peace of mind, like Etihad’s new Wellness Ambassador and sanitary kit program, announced this week. Others focus directly on cabin infrastructure, with a variety of partitioning and distancing options now being proposed by various manufacturers, as well as pedal controls in place of buttons and ‘virus proof coatings’.

Innovation, of course, requires investment, and with so many in the industry facing such extreme liquidity pressures this adds another challenge to what is already a very long list. But this investment may yet prove a lifeline for those in a position to make it.