Employees who work in poorly designed and perhaps dimly lit offices are likely to be less productive than those who work in bright, welcoming offices with the best tools for the job readily at their disposal. The same is the case for airline flight attendants in the aircraft cabin.

Designers of the new generation of crossover narrowbody jets, offering between 90 and 150 seats, have taken into account cabin crew, and some design elements work equally well for both cabin crew and passengers. For example, commenting on their airline’s Airbus A220s, Swiss International Air Lines crew say the equipment that helps them perform their jobs more efficiently are the overhead luggage bins, particularly on the right side of the aircraft above the three seats in the 3+2 layout. “These can accommodate three pieces of hand luggage (standard size) plus jackets and smaller items. This allows for a smoother and more efficient boarding/deboarding process,” the Swiss crew report.

AirBaltic’s cabin standards specialist, Gatis Stanga, concurs. “Overhead bins help a lot on a daily basis, as they are significantly larger in comparison to our Boeing 737 aircraft,” he remarks. “The wider aisle is also a big advantage. When cabin crew are navigating with a service trolley, passengers can easily pass them and do not need to wait behind in order to get to the lavatory or back to their seat. The bright cabin that the Airbus A220-300 has is definitely a plus, as more daylight comes into the cabin through the windows that are larger than on other single-aisle aircraft.”

Cabin crew feedback also reinforced the benefits of well-designed overhead bin doors on the Embraer E-Jets E2 family. “On an E-Jet, the bin doors open up, which, in addition to creating an enhanced cabin visual and improved clearance for boarding and disembarking, ensures a faster turnaround time,” states Daniel Galhardo, strategy director at Embraer Commercial Aviation. “It also makes it much easier for the cabin crew to close the bin doors, whether they are full or empty. This is a great advantage compared to drop-down bins, as flight attendants don’t need to use force to close the bins, meaning no neck pain after a working day.”

Smarter controls and settings for electric, electronic and environmental systems are also appreciated by flight attendants. CityJet’s cabin crew management, for example, report that on the carrier’s Sukhoi Superjet 100s, “all heating and lighting controls in the cabin are operated via computerized control panels, which we do not have on the Avro RJ. . . . Within a matter of seconds, the temperature in the cabin can be altered either by our control panel or by the flight deck. On the RJ85, this can take much longer, and sometimes on hot days you cannot regulate the cabin temperature at all.”

Embraer has also found that cabin management system (CMS) development is popular with crews. “The CMS gathers several system controls for cabin operation in only one user-friendly touch-screen panel. There are two CMS screens in the aircraft, one in the front galley and another in the aft cabin zone, to enable easy access by the cabin crew,” Galhardo remarks.

“The CMS is connected to different aircraft systems and provides to the flight attendants a simple interface for controlling several cabin functions: general overview of the aircraft, passenger attendant calls, announcements and boarding music selection, water and waste level control and overview, cabin temperature, lighting and power control, cabin surveillance, moving map, connecting flights information, ground communication and inflight entertainment and connectivity systems.

“One feature of the CMS that reduces the workload of the flight attendant is the solution for prerecorded announcements,” Galhardo adds. “The CMS can play prerecorded announcements to the cabin speakers as boarding announcements and safety briefings. The audio files are uploaded to the system using a USB stick. The cabin crew can then easily select in the graphical user interface the specific audio file to be played.”

In the same vein, “the A220’s CMS is one piece of equipment that makes the cabin crew’s job more efficient and significantly easier,” AirBaltic’s Stanga notes. “From the CMS touch-screen, cabin crew can control cabin temperature and lights, any video and audio files that are being played on customer service displays above each passenger row and other usable functions.”

When designing the MRJ, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. found that the chief concerns of cabin crews and their airlines typically include equipment reliability and customization, says Jorge Abando, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing. “For example, the MRJ’s galley is designed to incorporate proven systems to avoid unreliability issues and keep maintenance costs low, which is particularly important when operating high-daily-utilization networks with short turnaround schedules,” he observes.

“Reliability and simplicity are common bottom-line criteria from many regional and mainline airline cabin crews,” Abando says. “Items such as larger-capacity galley sinks for drink disposal, hand rails on the overhead bin for additional grip during turbulence and more visible attendant call buttons on [passenger service units] are features asked for by cabin crews.”

Cabin crew at Swiss and CityJet agree. At the latter, they appreciate the ample working space in the rear galley of the SSJ100. “There is lots of room for crew to work in, in comparison to the RJ85,” they confirm. “And the passenger call bell can be reset via control panels in both galleys.”

Should an emergency occur on the SSJ100, the slides are designed to deploy more rapidly than on an RJ85 due to the emergency pressure assist system. “This would enable crews to commence evacuation quicker,” the CityJet team notes.

At Swiss, as with all the airline’s narrowbody aircraft, the A220s have video screens as well as chillers for the trolleys. “These help us do our jobs more effectively. With the screens, we can show the safety film while rolling, which saves time. Meanwhile, the chillers allow us to serve cold beverages and fresh snacks throughout the day without the need for dry ice or new catering after every leg,” the Swiss crew emphasizes.

Airlines often promote how much they listen to their passengers, but listening to their cabin crew is also vital in delivering the services passengers want.