Cranfield University and Regional & City Airports (RCA) are launching a 360° video experience to help passengers with additional requirements prepare for their visits to airports.

As one of the first examples of using this technology in this way, the initiative has the potential to improve the experience for millions of passengers who face accessibility challenges when travelling by air in the UK, its developers said.

According to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, more than 3.6 million people with disabilities travelled by air in the UK in 2019. Air travel can be particularly daunting for these passengers, especially those who are first-time flyers or have little experience with airport security procedures. This can lead to heightened anxiety, feelings of uncertainty, and added stress. Consequently, passengers with disabilities or other accessibility challenges often need to plan their visits to airports well in advance.


The 360-video tour

The pilot 360-video experience – launching at Bournemouth Airport – will provide departing passengers with the opportunity to view and orientate themselves within the airport in 360° without having to leave home. The narrated tour guides passengers through the airport from the point of arrival, through to check-in, security and the boarding gate, showing and explaining what passengers can expect on their day of travel.

The video is one of the first projects to emerge from Cranfield and RCA’s strategic partnership to promote the development, testing and deployment of innovation across the aviation industry.


Making air travel more accessible and inclusive

Dr Thomas Budd, senior lecturer in airport planning and management at Cranfield University, said of the project: “We think this technology can be a real help to passengers who may benefit from planning their journey through the airport in advance. This can include estimating walking distances, as well as understanding the location and availability of seating areas or other facilities within the airport. For passengers with sensory-related conditions, the tour also provides an indication of the visual and acoustic environment they can expect inside the airport.

“Of course, this alone will not overcome the barriers passengers with additional requirements still face when travelling by air. However, we feel this work can help contribute to addressing these challenges, and demonstrate the wider value of this technology.”

The service will be available to all passengers, free of charge, via the Regional & City Airports website, as part of the group’s ongoing commitment to making its airports as accessible as possible to all passengers.

Image: Bournemouth Airport