Flying cleaner skies

Preparing pilots for eco-aware flying

Environmental awareness could be embedded in future airline pilot training if a new study by a European training think-tank is accepted at the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

EASA’s Aircrew Training Policy Group (ATPG) has produced an advisory paper that takes – as its starting point – the fact that there is no mention anywhere in training syllabi of preparing pilots to operate in an environmentally friendly manner. Entitled “Environmental Awareness Training for Pilots”, the paper points out how incongruous this looks when trade bodies like the International Air Transport Association have, for several years, publicly acknowledged that the industry must strive toward environmental sustainability in the face of accelerating public concern about global warming, atmospheric pollution, noise, and species extinction.

The chief authors of the report – Marina Efthymiou, Assistant Professor in aviation management at Dublin City University, and ATPG chairman Captain Andy O’Shea – point out that, although pilots may be instructed in fuel-saving techniques on command courses, that is not the same as “embedding ecologically friendly flight operations in young pilots’ DNA from their early training.” If EASA were to accept the paper’s argument and develop appropriate changes, they argue that standardising this approach to pilot training – and air traffic management/ATCO training also – would have the potential to influence a way of thinking, and thus to benefit operational behaviour. Efthymiou points out that fuel management training at airline level is not standardised, neither are its results measured. “The purpose here,” she explains, “is sustainability, not saving fuel costs.”

The advisory paper points out: “Traditionally the management of these three decision-based functions (fuel, time, noise) has mostly been considered as solely within the remit of the pilot-in-command.” Now, says the study, the proposed incorporation of environmental awareness into all pilot training is intended to “encourage good behaviour through early, attitude-forming education thereby contributing to the improved environmental aware performance of all pilots.”

O’Shea believes that adopting this proposal need only entail a “re-balancing” of existing training programmes, not radical change, embedding objectives in already-adopted safety instruction concepts like threat and error management (TEM). He suggests that “by recording objective observable behaviour (OB), and TEM outcome data on how recurrent pilots manage environmental scenarios, powerful insights can be generated to help drive a feedback loop into initial type rating training.”

In the end, airlines would benefit financially from the care taken by pilots imbued with a culture of care for their aircraft and the environment, the study argues. Meanwhile, at a time when airlines are spending some of their public relations budget on campaigns to persuade travellers of how ecologically aware they are, and while movements like “Flygskam” (Flight Shaming) are competing for passengers’ attention, being able to claim – truthfully – that “your pilots” are trained to care about their skies might also prove a marketing advantage.

One thought on “Flying cleaner skies

  1. I have been a professional pilot for 53 years( Navy/Airlines/ Corp. We ALWAYS operate the aircraft as cleanly and efficiently as possible under the conditions at hand.
    Having this “call to arms” to start making these clueless and environment damaging insensitive careless pilots toe the “Greeny’s” econazi line reminds me of when political ( hack) appointee Elizabeth Dole made her infamous edit or proclamation that mandated ALL airline pilots without exception were to sit through a rediculous video produced 20+ years earlier about cockpit safety and skyjacking. This because someone showed it to her and she thought it so important.
    We had all seen this phoney film ad nauseum multiple times from new hire orientation to annual recurrent training. – Just because she thought it was her good idea.
    Here we go again.
    Another Know it all expert gonna show us how-
    next you’ll be instructing the chickens how to more efficently peck the corn!
    Seems everybody today wants to be the Sheriff and lord over others.

    Like

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