Our CEO, Dan White, spoke on the panel hosted by #rebootaviation where leading experts in data and behavioral science reviewed their research, challenges and opportunities for a sustainable future in aviation. We bring you a summary of the key themes including the role of analytics and the power of behavior change in driving the environmental transition.
Aviation takes up 2,5% of the global-emitters pie chart. Pressures for a net-zero aviation future are increasing both locally and internationally. Countries are pledging to be carbon neutral in the next 10 to 30 years. The main driver of change, before technologies like SAF and electric aircraft are available, will be the right use of data analytics. The challenge that lies ahead is to motivate employees to engage fully with the environmental strategies uncovered by data. Handing down messages that are personalized and clearly linked to the desired outcomes are key to engage and motivate employees. Behavioral science techniques, like nudging, can tap into this potential. Case studies like the ‘urinal’s fly’ at Schiphol Airport show how small cost-effective interventions can significantly improve costs and operational efficiency.
‘’You can’t manage what you can’t measure.’’ This quote by Peter Drucker, a famous 20th-century business management expert, resonated throughout Christiaan’s speech. Collecting and understanding the right data is key for airlines and airports on the quest to sustainability. In airport operations, monitoring data can reveal disruptions in operational efficiency and direct managers to sustainably-optimized workflows.
Imagine a crew of ground handling operators navigating the fueling and catering vehicles during an aircraft’s turnaround. Real-time data reveals the exact timing of the refueling progress, so the catering vehicle can be sent to the parking lot right in time and avoid unnecessary idling. Without the data, decisions are grounded in mere estimates.
The ability to track data clarifies which operations are sustainable and which aren’t. After operational insights are collected, it is down to the individual to put the new sustainable objectives into action.
According to a 2011 study by Cho and Perry, to unlock employees’ intrinsic motivation, they must feel autonomous and competent. Delivering personalized data to employees with feedback for every task they complete is one way of unlocking this motivation. Increased knowledge about the processes in the workflow induces understanding of the individual’s agency, which empowers employees to be more proactive in environmental matters. Feedback promotes the feeling of competency. Positive feedback promotes repeated behavior, while constructive negative feedback clarifies the expectations and makes future goals easier to achieve. Creating personal and tangible tasks related to sustainability and operational efficiency is a crucial way to encourage behavioral change.
Dan, the CEO of Signol, spoke about our 2016 research into how behavioral science can address airlines’ operational inefficiencies. Signol’s team, which began with a study by scientists at the LSE and the University of Chicago, discovered that combining data analytics with personalized targets and feedback to captains is highly effective at saving fuel and reducing emissions.
The 2016 study, the first large-scale behavioral trial in aviation, proved that the benefits of behavioral interventions clearly outweigh the costs. Here, the team measured the operational practices of individual captains, like fuel use or taxiing, and sent them monthly reports. Regular feedback combined with personalized targets resulted in $6.1 million savings in fuel costs and 24,000 tons of CO₂ reduced over the 8 month trial period. We also saw increased job satisfaction for captains who had charitable donations made on their behalf.
Signol was surprised by the scope of change prompted by such an easily-to-implement solution - the nudge of a tailored feedback letter.
With tightening environmental regulations and the budgets of airlines hit hard in 2020, it is time to invest in improving operational efficiency. Our team’s behavioral study shows that greater operational efficiency can be achieved by simply regularly nudging captains to make more sustainable decisions. This gentle intervention has an impact that saves money through efficient fuel use, decreases the carbon footprint, and makes captains happier and motivated to make a change.
To learn more about how Signol improves operational efficiency through behavioral science, book a demonstration.
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Signol is a software platform that draws on insights from behavioral economics to encourage employees to make more efficient decisions. Signol provides personalized feedback through multiple communication channels, as well as data analysis for managers. In aviation, Signol aims to use behavioral "nudges" and incentives to reduce pollution and fuel waste and cut operating costs.