Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you may use the research findings, and can do so without permission. The material is being provided by JAARS and IAMA so individuals and organizations can use it.

Before using the material from this 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.

When using AER material, it is requested credit be provided as follows: Source:

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.

As a financial donor, you might want to know:

Because the research was based on contrasting the air trip to the surface trip, the findings will remain valid as long as there are no substantial changes in the nature of the air trip or the surface trip. If an aspect of either air or surface travel changes notably, then some findings would have less validity or become invalid.

For example, if the time comes when women traveling unaccompanied by surface would not be harassed, robbed, or raped, then the findings pertaining to aviation’s benefit for women would no longer be valid. Likewise, if local, commercial operators of ocean-going boats adopt professional standards of seamanship and provide safe, well-maintained boats with basic amenities, then the findings on aviation’s relative effectiveness would no longer be valid.

No, it was not. The goal was to adhere to the clear purpose of the study: to obtain an adequate understanding of the effectiveness of aviation at advancing people’s work. Accordingly, per the research proposal, all variables not pertaining to aviation’s effectiveness at advancing work were excluded. For example:

  • Financial models
  • The generation of revenue
  • Financial efficiency and effectiveness
  • The effectiveness of people
  • Efficiency of the air service
  • Organizational policies, practices, procedures, or politics
  • Aircraft type and availability

The AER was a geography-based, transportation study, not a utilization study. Financial cost would certainly play a major role in a utilization study, but not in a study evaluating the relative effectiveness of transportation modes in advancing people’s work.

Many mission aviation organizations use aviation mainly to advance people’s work. Knowing aviation’s effectiveness at advancing work will help leaders make knowledgeable, kingdom-centered decisions about its use. The decision of whether or not to use aviation comes first in the process. If you know using aviation in a certain geographic ministry area (GMA) would be very effective at advancing people’s work, and that using it would be good stewardship, then financial cost, and all the other factors associated with missionary aviation, are subsequent; that is, they follow the decision about aviation use.

No, it does not; it only evaluated aviation’s effectiveness at advancing people’s work.

Need can be defined as something that is required, essential, or necessary. Determination of the need for air service is the prerogative of the leaders of the user organizations. In other words, it is the leaders of an organization who have the authority and responsibility to decide if air service is required/essential/necessary for the workers in their organization.

Aviation providers can present the AER findings to the leaders of user organizations, and if those leaders say, “Our people don’t need it,” no request for air service will be generated, regardless of what the AER findings show.

Yes, a determined effort was made to interview nationals. However, relatively few of them used aviation and relatively few were accessible for interviews. No nationals were interviewed in the ocean or no-mode contexts. As a result, 48 of the 324 respondents (14.8%) were nationals.

In all contexts for which data were obtained, nationals reported the trip detriment to be 52%; the expatriates reported 45%. This indicated nationals considered surface trips to be slightly worse than expatriates did, particularly with regard to the perceived probabilities of:

  • Injury or death
  • Cargo loss, or damage beyond use
  • Cargo theft
  • Personal-item theft
  • Kidnapping

In terms of the amount of resources preserved by aviation (i.e. time, health, energy, safety, and security), 85.1% was preserved for nationals, and 81.1% was preserved for expatriates. This indicates aviation was slightly more effective at preserving the resources of nationals than it was at preserving the resources of expatriates, particularly in the road and river contexts.

In terms of work advancement, nationals reported aviation advanced their work to the extent of 2.27 (out of 4.00); expatriates to the extent of 2.29. This indicates aviation advanced the work of nationals and expatriates to almost the same extent.

A purposeful effort was made to interview women, both married and single, as they also traveled and did ministry work. The research sought to hear their voices. As a result, 140 of the 324 respondents (43.2%) were female.

In analyzing the data from all contexts, overall, women reported the trip detriment to be 48%; the men reported 44%. This indicated women considered surface trips to be slightly worse than men did, particularly with regard to:

  • Perceived detriment to physical health
  • Perceived detriment to psychological health
  • The amount of physical energy used
  • The amount of mental energy used

In terms of the amount of resources preserved by aviation (i.e. time, health, energy, safety, and security), 82.0% was preserved for women, and 81.4% was preserved for men. This indicates aviation was almost equally effective at preserving the resources of both genders, particularly in the road, trail, and no-mode contexts.

In terms of work advancement, women reported aviation advanced their work to the extent of 2.37 (out of 4.00); men to the extent of 2.23. This indicates aviation advanced the work of women slightly more than it did the work of men.

While the numerical findings showed aviation was about equally beneficial, when asked which gender benefited more from aviation, nearly all of the respondents indicated women did. In order of most-frequent mention, women were reported to benefit more:

  • For security reasons
  • For practical reasons
  • Due to the physical demands of surface travel
  • For cultural reasons
  • Due to the psychological demands of surface travel
  • For safety reasons

The respondents themselves weighted their answers. Each response was someone’s subjective opinion, to which they gave a numerical value using standardized scales provided by the researcher. If something was more beneficial to them, or if it was prominent in their minds, they would give it a higher value (i.e. they would add weight to their answer).

For example, if they stated aviation was better for building, improving, or maintaining work relationships, they were then asked “how much better is air than surface?” Referring to the scale, if aviation wasn’t that much better than surface, they might have responded with “1” (slightly better). However, if aviation was really beneficial to them in building work relationships, they might have responded with “4” (tremendously better).

Regarding some aspects – yes. Regarding others – no. For example, many people associated with missionary aviation know it saves time and gets workers and their cargo to destinations in better condition. They might also be aware of other ways aviation benefits those who use it. However, they might not be aware of all thirty of its sub-functions, of all the specific ways aviation performs them, or of the numerical extent to which it does so.

For those aspects of missionary aviation previously known and understood, the AER provides both numerical and non-numerical findings to support that knowledge.

The best place to look is on the Surface Transport page. That page contains a table and list of reasons to use surface transport, the tables showing the ways surface transport advances people’s work, and the Axioms & Principles (A&Ps) regarding surface transport.

In addition, other research findings can be used to frame decisions regarding whether to use air or surface transport. By looking at the nature of the surface trip, you can deduce (or “reverse out”) the people and situations in which surface transport might be better.

  • On the Surface Transport page, the information behind the “Trip Detriment” button
  • On the Correlations page, the correlations pertaining to:
    • Surface Travel Time
    • Resources Wasted During Surface Travel
    • Surface Trip Detriment
  • On the Who Benefits More? page, the list of people who benefit more from aviation

No, it wasn’t. The purpose of the research was to obtain an adequate understanding of the effectiveness of aviation at advancing people’s work. It did this by contrasting air travel with surface travel. The researcher made every effort to fulfill the research purpose in an unbiased manner, as shown by the following:

  1. Respondents were asked the exact same questions about both the surface trip and the air trip. The same scales were used for both modes.
  2. Per best practices in research, all questions were written, and asked, in neutral form.
  3. Regarding the advancement questions (i.e. the questions on access, cargo acquisition, facilitation of work, emergency transport, and psychosocial benefit), for each question, before being asked to indicate a numerical extent, respondents were first asked which mode was better, giving them full opportunity to indicate surface was better. Many did, as was seen in the Excel sheets containing the data.
  4. Prior to the field work, when the Excel data sheets were being built, the researcher instructed the technician automate it so cells would turn bright green when “surface” was indicated to be better. This was to facilitate analysis.
  5. Respondents were only interviewed if they could speak to both the surface trip and the air trip. Thus, the dataset does not favor “air only” or “surface only” travelers.
  6. All data were processed and analyzed using the same procedures.
  7. All of the surface transport findings were placed on the website next to the air transport findings, and are presented in the same manner.
  8. Ways Tables were produced for both air and surface.
  9. Axioms & Principles for surface transport were written in the same manner as for air.
  10. A comprehensive list of Reasons to Use Surface Transport was assembled.
  11. A document containing data on surface travel was assembled for use in designing land and water transportation solutions and training.

This is a common question and a reasonable one to ask. The researcher took the opportunity provided by the AER to see what, if any, connections existed between aviation and accomplishing organizational goals, and between aviation and impacting the kingdom. This was done through the two exploratory questions.

With one minor exception, it was found all of the Ways aviation helped organizations accomplish their goals and impacted the kingdom fit within aviation’s functions and sub-functions. In other words, the connection between aviation and these two subjects was straightforward – it did so through its standard functions and sub-functions. In essence, aviation only provided transportation. And this makes sense, as aviation is transportation.

But then how does ministry work get done? It is done by the people who use the transportation. Mission aviation programs provide transportation; the passengers do the ministry work. The pilot gets back in the aircraft and returns to their base; the passengers remain at the work locations and do ministry work. It might be helpful to think of the overall mission aviation endeavor as having two parts: the transportation part and the work/ministry part. The AER examined where the two parts meet, that is, how air transportation affects people’s work.

Research Design

As the research shows, aviation gives workers a better opportunity to do their work by carrying out its functions and sub-functions. For example, let’s say a flight program provided excellent transportation for a team of Bible translators. It gave them every advantage by saving their time, preserving their health, energy, safety, and security, and improving their access. Yet the translators (for whatever reason) did not translate any scripture. Does that mean aviation was ineffective at providing transportation? Or that aviation was ineffective at giving people a better opportunity to do their work? No, it doesn’t. Therefore, the effectiveness of aviation cannot, and should not, be evaluated based on the effectiveness of its passengers. Rather, aviation’s effectiveness can, and should, be evaluated based on the transportation it provides.

No, it did not. At its core, the AER sought to assess the effectiveness of missionary aviation relative to surface transport. To achieve that goal, it was not necessary to make a distinction between fixed- and rotor-wing aircraft.

(An explanation of the resources preserved graphs, and how the values were calculated, is provided in this video. The following is essentially the script.)

In the AER, health, energy, safety, and security are considered to be resources, resources that can either be used on transport or on people’s work.

Aviation preserves health, energy, safety, and security (HESS) better than any other mode of transport. Although it does not preserve 100% of those resources, it preserves more of them than surface transport does. In essence, it is the best we have in terms of preserving time and HESS.

The research sought to determine aviation’s effectiveness at advancing people’s work relative to surface transport. One of the ways it did that was by determining how much time, health, energy, safety, and security was preserved by each mode. The fewer resources a person uses when traveling, the more resources they will have available for their work.

Let’s start with time.

  • For example, there’s a missionary who’s going to travel from a town to the village where she works. If she flies, it will take her 1 hour; if she goes by river it will take her 10 hours.
  • Since aviation will get her there in less time than any other mode, she has to expend at least 1 hour traveling. Therefore, that 1 hour is well-used.
  • This means, if aviation were available, it would be unnecessary for her to expend the additional 9 hours – those 9 hours would be wasted.
  • 1 hour is 10% of 10 hours. Therefore, when traveling by river, 10% of her time is well-used, the other 90% (the 9 hours) is wasted. Aviation preserves the 90% that is wasted by the river trip.
  • The same concepts apply to health, energy, safety, and security; it works the same way with those resources.

Quantifying the amount of time and energy used when traveling was relatively easy, because we can measure time, and because people are used to thinking in terms of how much energy they have.

  • However, quantifying the amounts of health, safety, and security was more difficult, because people don’t normally think of these in terms of “amounts.” Rather, they think of them in terms of the probabilities of something happening. For example, the probability of getting injured or the chances of something being stolen.
  • And, because there are no commonly-agreed standards by which to actually measure the amounts of health, safety, and security preserved, it was impractical to write survey questions to obtain “amounts” of these resources. Therefore, it was necessary to use probabilities as proxies (or substitutes) for amounts.
  • For example, if a respondent said there was a 50% probability of them getting injured when traveling by river, it was considered as 50% of their resource of safety being used.

Every trip, whether by air or surface, requires some amount of health, energy, safety, and security to be expended.

  • Let’s say a missionary is going to travel from a town to the village where she works. When she starts out in the morning, she has 100% of her health, energy, safety, and security. That is, she is perfectly healthy, she is full of energy, is totally safe, and all of her cargo is absolutely secure.
  • Today, the worker is going to the village by river. Next month, she will fly there. During both trips, there is some probability/chance her health will be degraded, she will use some energy, she will face the risk of injury, and there’s a chance her cargo will be stolen.
  • Through the use of standardized survey questions and response scales, the research was able to quantify the probabilities/chances of these things occurring. By using those probabilities as substitutes for amounts, the research was able to establish the amounts of these resources each traveler would expend.

Once the amounts of each resource expended during both air and surface travel were known, they could be used to calculate the amounts that were well-used and wasted. As mentioned earlier, aviation preserves time, health, energy, safety, and security better than any other mode; it is the best we have. A person would use the least amount of resources traveling by air; they would use more going by surface. Because aviation uses the least amount of resources, using any more than the minimum is unnecessary. Therefore, the amount of resources used beyond those required by aviation would be wasted. Wasting resources is poor stewardship.

To understand the math, let’s return to our example.

  • In the interview, the missionary indicated when going by river, the probability of getting physically injured or killed was 50%. Or, put in the terms of the research, 50% of her resource of safety would be used. This could also be thought of as 50 units of safety being used out of the 100 available.
  • When she flew to the village, she indicated the probability of being injured or killed was 5%. Or, put in the terms of the research, 5% of her resource of safety would be used. This could also be thought of as 5 units of safety being used out of the 100 available.
  • Now, because aviation preserves resources better than any other mode, the missionary will have to use a minimum of 5% of her resource of safety during her trip to the village. She has to use that amount regardless of whether she goes by river or by air.
  • That tells us 5% of the 50% used by river is well-used. The question becomes: 5 is what portion of 50 (5 divided by 50)? 5 is 10% of 50.
  • Therefore, 10% of the resource is well-used (because it has to be expended regardless of the transport mode), and the other 90% is wasted (because if aviation were available, it would be unnecessary to expend this amount of the resource).
  • The 90% wasted by surface transport is preserved, or saved, by aviation. If the missionary were to travel by river, she would have to spend time, money, and effort to preserve her safety, both before and during her trip. This might entail buying water safety equipment, arranging someone to accompany her, staying awake when she really needed to sleep, or making medevac plans in case she was injured. If she traveled by air, none of that time, money, or effort would have to be spent – it would be preserved. She could use those resources on her work rather than on transport.

Quantifying the amounts of time, health, energy, safety, and security preserved by aviation in different transportation contexts enables us to make more-knowledgeable decisions about when, where, and for whom, to use or not use aviation worldwide.

AER Airplane

Pucallpa, Peru

AER Airplane

Goroka, Papua New Guinea

AER Airplane

Galmi, Niger