Haines, Michael John
Abstract: Long distance flight is an entrenched transportation mode that has brought with it a range of issues and impacts on the human cabin occupants. Development of ultra long range aircraft allows a single airline flight to last more than 16 hours in flight time which will have added impact on cabin crew and passengers.
This study was conducted to analyse the varied and diverse issues that ultra long range flights present in relation to the cabin and its occupants. Research included two surveys, one survey to international airlines from around the world and one survey to New Zealand based cabin crew who operate on international flights. Both surveys analysed current long range flight impacts and allowed respondents to identify new ultra long range flight issues.
The survey to organisations was responded to by seven airlines with three of the respondents currently operating ultra long range flights. The seven respondents rated operational issues as areas to be addressed including cabin crew issues related to duties, training and in-flight rest. Passenger related areas were mainly in relation to customer comfort.
The cabin crew survey had 119 respondents with a range of international cabin crew experience up to 36 years and averaging 5.7 long range flights per month. The respondents rated their cabin safety role as extremely important but did not believe their employers rated their safety role as highly. Respondents rated fatigue, sleep and dehydration as the main health impacts from long haul flights and 97.3% believed these health impacts will increase with ultra long range flight. In regard to rest and rest facilities 62% of respondents believed the current rest periods provided were inadequate and 70.7% believed the current rest facilities were inadequate. There was found to be a strong statistical relationship between rest adequacy and rest facilities adequacy. In relation to ultra long range flight respondents rated in-flight rest facilities as the foremost item to address for cabin crew and cabin air quality as the foremost item to address for passengers.
In general the survey of cabin crew identified the cabin environment, fatigue and lack of management emphasis on cabin crew as areas to be addressed for ultra long range flight. For passengers the cabin environment, facilities, and seating issues need addressing for ultra long range flight.
Further analysis based on the survey results found that ultra long range flight research has focussed on aircraft performance, engine reliability and the impacts of extended flight time on flight crew. Study on the impact of ultra long range flight on cabin crew and passengers are limited and lack the depth of research given to flight crew.
This study has identified that aircraft manufacturers and airline operators need to research and address a range of issues related to the cabin, in particular impacts related to cabin crew and passengers. Aviation regulators need to address many areas to improve regulations related to cabin crew and passenger health and safety. These areas need to be researched and addressed to ensure the impacts of ultra long range flight are reduced.