This is honestly the first time I've ever written a topic on this forum so forgive me for any inconvenience I might do.
Idea: In the first Xenonauts game your interaction with your squadrons was merely maintenace and logistical services (such as re-arming or exchanging armament, decommissioning aircraft and obviously purchasing and researching new types of aircraft). What if you were able to interact with the pilots of the interceptors themselves, just like a regular soldier, each pilot belonging to the Xenonauts project would have their own feed and info such as names, nationalities, past military services and so on, but pilots could have their own set of skills and capabilities for the commander to take in consideration, some of these could be awareness, vitality (or endurance), survival and cunning. So, would pilots come as more of a challenge or benefit to the player? Well it would be a mix of both, having unique pilots with different pasts and personalities would challenge your capability of management and taking advantage of those same personalities during interceptions, a commander that is capable of selecting the correct individual for the specific task has an advantage over any other aircraft in the air, but it is this same individuality and instability that might pose as an obstacle for less "seasoned" commanders who were used to similar aircraft with exactly the same statistics. What would be the assessments and dangers of having fully interactive, individual pilots? Well to start off, there can be as many skilled pilots as there can be incapable individuals, it is up to the commander to see which skills are more important for his/hers fighting style, pilots would also occupy space in the barracks just as any other regular soldier; there would also be the "unfortunate" instance of brilliant pilots dying due to a streak of bad luck or just a mission that wasn't well planned, but sometimes pilots could survive a crash landing and this could bring a good opportunity for a new type of ground mission, search and rescue. To finish this off, I'd just like to thank all who took their precious time to read my suggestion and I'm sorry if I committed any mistakes regarding the template of the topic or the fact that I might've accidentally mentioned something that someone else already said.
Addenum 1: Skills?
Awareness: Situational awareness is actually a skill that should be practiced by the player him/herself, but again... Pilots would be required to be extremely perceptive of the environment surronding them and dictate the future of the decisions and options they might take while conducting a mission, pilots with high awareness would be able to dodge and take evasive maneuvers faster than other pilots.
Vitality (or endurance): Pilots should take intensive training regularly, individuals unfit to the task wouldn't be able to resist as much shock and G force as trained pilots would. This skill dictates the pilot's chance of survival in case his aircraft is shot down.
Survival: Survival training will guarantee the pilot's capability of self management and tending to personal needs in an hostile environment, not to mention that the pilot will most likely be hunted down by search parties conducted by the enemy, thus revealing a catastrophic scenario of capture or even death. A pilot's survival skill would determine the time he would be able to survive alone in an hostile environment until he is rescued.
Cunning (optional): At last, a pilot should be an example of ingenuity and wisdom, either from tunning with his own aircraft to meet his needs and extend the efficiency of it's systems to the capability of saving fuel during flight.
Addenum 2: Downed pilots?
Yes, there would be a chance of survival of your pilot if his/her interceptor was shot down by alien craft, this would be determined by the vitality skill or just a random chance. After the pilot was downed, the player would have the option of risking his men to conduct a rescue operation on the pilot's known crash site, just like a regular mission the player's squad would spawn in a corner of the map and scout the crash site looking for the downed pilot, depending on how fast the player managed to conduct this operation would determine how many enemies are present on the map, the player's objective would be looking for the remainders of the downed aircraft expecting the pilot to be nearby, if the player managed to find the pilot there could be two situations: situation 1, the pilot would be in a good health condition and able to return back to the helicopter by himself or controlled by the player, the pilot would have a pistol for self defense and his/her skills in combat would be randomly generated (so pray for good AP). situation 2, the pilot would be in a critical state requiring the player to carry him/her back to the helicopter.