Where Do Pilot Unions Stand on Sustainability and the Role of Operational Efficiency?
Dr Divya Sukumar
As the aviation industry progresses toward crucial climate crisis targets, Signol joins in by helping airlines cut their carbon emissions. Specifically, Signol’s app and messages positively reinforce pilots’ implementation of fuel efficient and eco-friendly practices such as Reduced Engine Taxi In, Continuous Descent, and Idle Reverse Thrust. So, where do pilot unions - a key stakeholder in the industry - stand on sustainability and the role of such fuel saving procedures?
Here’s a round up of what pilot unions from various countries have said about environmental and fuel efficiency initiatives:
The British Airlines Pilot Association (BALPA) have published a blog recapping the aviation industry’s multifaceted approach in tackling climate change, ranging from more efficient aircraft design to best operational practices. For instance, BALPA highlights that “[t]he way pilots and air traffic controllers manage take offs, departures and approaches is also already being looked at as a way of helping reduce the impact of aviation on the environment. Since engines are designed to function optimally at higher altitudes, the process of levelling off multiple times during departure and arrival is not only inefficient from a fuel usage point of view but it also adds to the noise an aircraft produces. That’s why pilots and air traffic controllers have been working to ensure continuous climbs and descents are used wherever possible. The benefit is better fuel efficiency and reduced noise.”
g. “Continuous Descent Arrival (CDA) / Optimized Descent Procedure (ODP)”
h. “Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum”
The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Association (IFALPA) have released an editorial on environmental sustainability. While acknowledging there is more work to be done, IFALPA shines light on the commendable work of the industry so far: “Airlines have voluntarily adopted numerous programs to reduce their environmental impacts including tree-planting programs, new electric-powered tugs to reduce fuel consumption by aircraft and ground vehicles while taxiing, aircraft operating procedures which reduce fuel consumption, and many more. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the industry has achieved a 50% reduction in carbon emissions per passenger since 1990 and fuel efficiency has increased 2.3% each year since 2009.”
The German union, Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), have shared their own policy on climate protection. The policy includes suggestions for regulators, airlines, passengers, and pilots. Specifically for pilots and airlines, VC suggests: “All operating procedures must be reviewed for their environmental impact. The pilots must be provided with tools so that they can choose the most ecologically sensible flight route, altitude and speed. Airlines must provide appropriate training for their personnel. The following (exemplary mentioned) practices shall be rejected: Carrying fuel for further flight segments solely due to a price difference (tankering), avoidable empty flights (e.g. to maintenance events), PR and sightseeing flights, serving routes with little demand, and faster flying to save time.”
In short, pilot unions support the implementation of various fuel saving behaviors, only when safe, to help our environment. Signol makes this process easier for pilots by giving them access and control over their own operational data in an easily digestible format. With Signol, pilots can review their successful implementation of practices such as Reduced Engine Taxi In and exactly how they have positively impacted the environment. If you’d like to know how Signol works with pilots to encourage these green practices, get in touch here.
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.