Airplanes image graphic

Air travel has soared in recent years, and all those flights create global warming pollution. By saving fuel, pilots can help reduce emissions … and research shows they’re easily motivated to do so.

To reduce fuel without compromising safety, pilots can avoid over-fueling, adjust speed and altitude, and shut down extra engines while taxiing.

Grosnell: “So we approached Virgin Atlantic with an idea that could improve environmental efficiency and also maximize airlines’ profits.”

That’s Greer Grosnell of the London School of Economics. She says that Virgin Atlantic pilots were divided into four groups.

A control group received information about the study, but no other support. Other pilots got data about their fuel use. Some were given goals and encouragement. And the last group had an incentive: money would go to charity if they met their fuel-saving targets.

The pilots who received goals saved the most fuel. And those also given a charitable incentive reported better job satisfaction. But all the groups cut back on fuel … even the control.

Knowing their efficiency was being monitored led to drastic improvements in fuel efficiency. Click To Tweet

Grosnell: “Simply knowing their efficiency was being monitored led to drastic improvements in fuel efficiency.”

That, she hopes, is a lesson other airlines can learn from.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

Topics: Energy, Transportation