On SL, it takes one person to operate a ship the majority of the time. One person can pilot, and fire weapons, and plan routes, etc. Even if two people are aboard, the second one usually just watches on map or occasionally gets in a turret to help. This is my proposition: makes crews useful and necessary.
What does this mean?
Larger ships mean larger crews needed. For example, a destroyer could take four people to fly it, one for each weaponset, a pilot, and a navigator (has to enter coordinates for jumps). The person who pilots the ship would automatically be designated as the pilot by the system. Then, the pilot can go into an interface and pick roles for players aboard.
Likewise, smaller ships mean less crew needed
A starfighter and corvette should be able to be piloted by a single person, as they are small and controllable. However, the crew needed to fly would begin at frigates. A frigate requires two people, one to fire weapons and one to pilot.
Now, I know the entire server population is going “reeeeeee I shouldn’t need to have friends to fly ships! this is so stupid. nobody likes this idea. go commit extended stay in 7A aviforma.”
Wait a second, you can fly your ships without friends. In fact, this hardly affects traders at all, considering they wouldn’t need crews to fire weaponry and such. Only massive trade ships would require a second crew member to do jumps and such. This only affects people going into battle, which means the majority of the server would remain unaffected. And if you were flying a massive trade ship alone and suddenly were chased? Well, you could switch your role from pilot to a gunner or something of the sort, and man the weaponry without moving. This means larger ships are going to be more like ships in Star Wars, where they don’t run straight into the fray but instead move slowly or not at all, while smaller ships fight and dodge gunfire. And we all know SL is meant to be entirely based around Star Wars.