About the Research

Aiyura, Papua New Guinea

ORIGINS

The Aviation Effectiveness Research (AER) originated at JAARS in the summer of 2014. At that time, Chuck Daly was the Vice-President of Transportation Services and Scott Zibell was the independent field research consultant serving the missionary aviation community. Chuck and Scott met often to discuss the strategic questions Chuck, and other leaders, faced regarding aviation use. It was recognized all of those questions could be answered by having a solid understanding of aviation’s effectiveness at advancing people’s work. Scott then developed a research proposal, JAARS commissioned the project, and field work commenced in April of 2015.

From the beginning, the intent of the JAARS leadership was for the AER to benefit the greater mission aviation community. They valued collaboration, partnership, and working together well in the use of aviation. Other missionary aviation organizations shared these values, and provided funding and practical field support.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARIES

(1-page summary)

The Aviation Effectiveness Research (AER)

The purpose of the research was to obtain an adequate understanding of the effectiveness of aviation at advancing people’s work in the mission environment. To obtain that understanding, the researcher conducted in-depth, personal interviews with 324 air service users between April 2015 and January 2018. The effectiveness of missionary aviation was evaluated in the road transportation context (Cameroon and Niger), the river context (Brasil and Peru), the trail and no-mode contexts (Papua, Indonesia), and the ocean context (Papua New Guinea). In addition, the effectiveness of the Ethnos360 Aviation program in the Philippines was also evaluated (providing data on multiple contexts).

The practical reason aircraft are commonly used in missions is to advance people’s kingdom work by negating the detriments of surface travel. Starting from this premise, metrics were used to answer two root questions: “What is the person’s transportation efficiency when traveling by surface?” (twelve components) and “To what extent does aviation advance people’s work?” (eighteen components). The survey questions contrasted air travel with surface travel, and covered all seven functions of missionary aviation. In addition, questions were asked exploring whether aviation helps organizations reach their goals and whether it impacts the kingdom of God.

The numerical and non-numerical data were processed and analyzed, resulting in a comprehensive range of materials. Of note are:

  • Graphs showing the extent of aviation’s effectiveness at advancing work
  • Tables showing the specific ways air and surface transport advance work
  • Axioms and principles regarding the effective use of air and surface transport
  • Answers to the exploratory questions
  • A section on surface transport; its nature and when to use it

The AER was designed to enable:

  • Knowledgeable decisions about when, where, and for whom, to use or not use aviation worldwide
  • Wise alignment organizational resources to accomplish kingdom goals
  • Informing or educating people regarding aviation decisions

The AER originated at JAARS in mid-2014, and was commissioned by Chuck Daly, then Vice-President of Transportation Services at JAARS. It was completed under his successor, Craig Russell. The AER was conducted by Scott Zibell, Ph.D., the independent field research consultant serving the mission aviation community. Primary funding was provided by JAARS, with substantial funding from MMS Aviation and Ethnos360 Aviation. Additional funding was provided by SMAT, Mission Safety International (MSI), Parkwater Aviation, and private individuals. Field support was provided by: SIL Aviation in Cameroon, SIM and SIMAIR in Niger, Asas de Socorro and SIL Aviation in Brasil, SAMAIR in Peru, Yajasi in Papua, Indonesia, Ethnos360 Aviation in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, and SIL Aviation in Papua New Guinea.


(1-paragraph summary)

The Aviation Effectiveness Research (AER) evaluated the effectiveness of missionary aviation at advancing people’s work in the five basic transportation contexts found around the world. Between April 2015 and January 2018, in-depth interviews were conducted with 324 air service users in Cameroon, Niger, Brasil, Peru, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. The survey questions contrasted air travel with surface travel, and covered all seven functions of missionary aviation. In addition, open-ended questions explored whether aviation helps organizations reach their goals and whether it impacts the kingdom of God. The result was a high-resolution picture of how, and to what extent, missionary aviation advanced people’s work. The project was commissioned by JAARS and conducted by Scott Zibell, Ph.D. The AER was a JAARS initiative intended to benefit the greater mission aviation community. It was designed to: 1) enable leaders to make knowledgeable decisions about when, where, and for whom, to use or not use aviation worldwide, 2) wisely align organizational resources to accomplish kingdom goals, and 3) inform, or educate, people regarding aviation decisions.

PRIMARY USES

The AER was primarily designed to enable decision makers to do three things:

  1. Make knowledgeable decisions about when, where, and for whom, to use or not use aviation worldwide
  2. Wisely align organizational resources to accomplish kingdom goals
  3. Inform, or educate, people regarding aviation decisions

Making knowledgeable decisions about when, where, and for whom, to use or not use aviation worldwide includes, but is not limited to:

  • Decisions regarding where to start flight programs
  • Decisions regarding when to close flight programs
  • Determining when, and for whom, to use surface transport
  • Determining the nature and shape of a flight program
  • Determining how to reshape a flight program to make it more effective

Wisely aligning organizational resources to accomplish kingdom goals includes such activities as:

  • Recruitment and assignment of personnel
  • Making decisions about equipment, i.e. whether to upgrade, overhaul, replace, or eliminate an airframe
  • Obtaining and allocating funds
  • Public relations efforts

Informing, or educating, people regarding aviation decisions includes communicating with:

  • The leaders of non-aviation missions
  • An aviation organization’s parent organization
  • People within an aviation organization
  • Schools training mission aviation personnel
  • Boards
  • Donors
  • The public
CAVEATS
  1. The AER was designed to help frame decisions, not make them. Decisions regarding the use of aviation are multi-faceted and entail many variables in addition to aviation’s effectiveness. The AER was intended to bring facts and numbers to discussions regarding the use of aviation.
  2. The AER was designed to evaluate aviation’s effectiveness at advancing work; it was not designed to evaluate “the need” for mission aviation, or to validate or justify it. Determination of need is the prerogative of the leaders of the user organizations.
  3. The numbers shown on the graphs are quantifications, not measurements. The researcher ascribed to the definition of “measurement” as quantifying something relative to a commonly-agreed standard. Because there were no commonly-agreed standards for the subjects inquired about in the AER, technically, the numbers herein are considered qualitative, as they are merely quantifications of people’s subjective opinions.
  4. All research findings have their capabilities and limitations. As with any other scientific research, the AER findings must be used within their limitations.
LIMITATIONS
  1. The AER findings only pertain to aviation’s effectiveness at advancing people’s work, not to its effectiveness at gaining political or cultural access, generating revenue, conducting relief operations, providing international transport, or providing community air service.
  2. The findings from one transportation context cannot be applied with full equality to similar contexts in another parts of the world.
  • The AER was a “rough cut” at the world. Due to the limitations of time, money, and personnel, only a partial sample of each transportation context was obtained. For example, the river context of the Amazon was surveyed, but not that of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The trail context of Papua, Indonesia, was surveyed, but not that of Tibet. The road contexts of Cameroon and Niger were surveyed, but not those of South Sudan or Uganda.
  • All transportation contexts are not the same. For example, the road context of Niger is different than that in the Central African Republic. Mountain trails are different than flatland trails. Small rivers are different than big rivers. No-mode travel in New Guinea is different than no-mode travel in Alaska.
  • However, sufficient similarities exist to enable the findings to be applied in a general manner. The data and findings provide a reference point to start from in projecting (estimating) aviation’s effectiveness in similar transportation contexts.
  1. Findings pertaining to transportation contexts with small sample sizes have limited applicability. For example, the trail context had 34 records. Fewer records means less completeness, less accuracy, and less transferability to other places in the world. None-the-less, the AER obtained data on these contexts, which were not available before, thus providing a notable increase in knowledge and understanding.
  2. On the Ways Tables, the actual strength of each Way cannot be fully ascertained. Since not every respondent was asked “how” or “why” for every question, the resultant tallies were only indicators; they are not definitive. However, the predominance for each Way is valid, as it’s based on the number of contexts the Way was identified in.
OWNERSHIP and INTENT

JAARS commissioned the AER and raised the funds for it, thereby originally owning the data and findings. However, from the beginning of the project, JAARS intended the AER to benefit the greater missionary aviation community. The JAARS leadership valued partnership and working together well with other organizations regarding the use of aviation. Therefore, as a practical action to support those values, JAARS planned to make the findings available to the missionary aviation community.

IAMA is the International Association of Missionary Aviation. Its vision is to “See its members working together in perfect harmony, collaborate in strategic planning, share expertise and resources, spur one another on toward excellence, and serve one another without unnecessary duplication.”

Given IAMA’s vision and JAARS’ intent for the missionary aviation community to benefit from the AER, JAARS transferred ownership of the data and findings to IAMA.

COPYRIGHT and USAGE

The AER website, as a whole, is copyrighted by IAMA. However, the individual pieces of research material it contains (e.g. the graphs) are not copyrighted.

JAARS and IAMA wanted the AER findings to be used. Hence, in partnership, they made the AER material available for use by individuals and organizations.

Prior to using the material from the website, please read the Terms and Conditions, which covers: use of the AER logo and photos, caveats and limitations, fidelity of presentation, non-alteration of the material, and formatting guidelines.

The research material from the AER website may be used without permission. However, when using AER material, it is requested credit be provided as follows: Source: aerproject.info.

ABOUT the RESEARCHER

At the time of the AER, Scott Zibell was the independent field research consultant serving the missionary aviation community. After earning a bachelor’s degree in geography from Carroll University (WI), Scott became an airlift operations officer in the U.S. Air Force, where he planned and ran airlift operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He participated in a number of airlift operations, including the Gulf War and the humanitarian efforts in Bosnia and Somalia. Returning to school, he earned a master’s degree in geography from St. Cloud State University (MN); his thesis was done for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF-US). Scott then went on to earn a Ph.D. in geography from the University of South Carolina. For his dissertation, he traveled to 7 MAF flight programs around the world to identify the effects of missionary aviation. Following graduate school, Dr. Zibell was an assistant professor of geography at the University of Central Missouri, where he taught courses in physical, regional, and aerial geography. After leaving academia, he conducted field research projects for SIL-Asia Area, Africa Inland Mission (AIM), Ethnos360 Aviation, and JAARS. In his career, through the conclusion of the AER, Dr. Zibell interviewed just over 1,000 people, traveled to 47 countries, conducted field research in 29, and flew on more than 180 mission aviation flights in 14 countries. Although not a pilot, Scott is a former freefall parachutist, and while in the military, flew as an additional crewmember in 9 types of aircraft.

If you have any questions or comments on the research, you can contact Scott by using the Contact page.

WEBSITE UPDATES

Since the AER website was launched on 25 July 2021, the following updates have been made:

  • 1 July 2022. The upgraded materials for conducting Transportation Needs Assessments (TNAs) were uploaded. Although function-checked and ready for field use, the materials and procedures will be improved as experience is gained with them. Please check the date on each document to be sure you have the latest version.
  • 2 February 2022. The name of the Requisite Transport Assessment (RTA) was changed to Transportation Needs Assessment (TNA). It is the same tool, but with a simpler, more-understandable name.
  • 18 December 2021. Additional axioms & principles (A&Ps) were added to the function pertaining to cargo acquisition on the Aviation’s Effectiveness page and on the Axioms & Principles page. The researcher overlooked the assignment of those A&Ps when the site was originally constructed.
  • 13 December 2021. Additional axioms & principles (A&Ps) were added to the functions and sub-functions pertaining to time saved, and to the preservation of health, energy, safety, and security on the Aviation’s Effectiveness page and on the Axioms & Principles page. The researcher overlooked the assignment of those A&Ps when the site was originally constructed.
  • 11 December 2021. The materials for conducting Requisite Transport Assessments (RTAs) were removed given the materials were still under development. After the materials are fully-developed and tested, the field-ready versions will be uploaded.
  • 14 September 2021. The materials for conducting Requisite Transport Assessments (RTAs) were upgraded.