Global Competition Challenges Students in Engineering and Aviation
Kagan Pittman posted on May 13, 2015 |
Energy absorbing fiber and games console motion technology among solutions in aviation

University students from across the globe are teaming up to tackle key issues in aviation with creative engineering.

Teams of participants choose from six subjects: Efficiency, Passenger Experience, Energy, Affordable Growth, Traffic Growth and Community Friendliness. Under these subjects, teams think of a common problem and then run off to the drawing board to engineer a solution.

Teams work with Airbus professionals to ensure ideas and concepts fall within the competitions guidelines.

Having begun with over 500 entries, it has now come down to five finalists:

  • Team MULTIFUN, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

MULTIFUN seeks to dress plane wings in piezoelectric fibres to gather electrical charges from natural vibrations or flex in the wings during flight. The energy is stored in battery panels integrated in the fuselage to power auxiliary in-flight systems, such as lighting and entertainment systems. This reduces the energy footprint of the aircraft during flight.

  • Team BIRDPORT, University of Tokyo, Japan 

Seagulls are a common pest in highly populated areas and bird strikes are a common problem at airports. BIRDPORT proposes deploying drones to guide birds away using tactics of separation, alignment and cohesion to control flocks. Once guided to a “Birdport,” birdsongs and decoys are used to simulate a natural and safe habitat, encouraging birds to stay.

  • Team AFT-BURNER-REVERSER, Northwestern Polytechnical University, China
Turnaround time of aircrafts between flights can be a common problem and poor ground handling can result in the damage of planes. AFT-BURNER-REVERSER applies motion-sensing technology from a games console to an aircraft guidance system for use when taxiing. The model uses infrared and visual information to warn the pilot and ground crew of high-risk obstacles, potentially saving airlines millions of dollars per year.
A visualization of Team AFT-BURNER-REVERSER's concept.

A visualization of Team AFT-BURNER-REVERSER's concept.

  • Team RETROLLEY, University of São Paulo, Brazil

RETROLLEY is tackling the issue of reducing in-flight waste and cutting down the time taken to collect and sort garbage post-flight. This speeds up airline operations, particularly on short-haul carriers. The team's bespoke trolley is designed to intelligently sort waste and recycling by minimizing the volume of foils, paper and plastic while collecting residual fluid. In doing so, the weight of galley equipment can be reduced by up to 30 kg, reducing fuel consumption and offering more space in-flight for refreshments.

  • Team BOLLEBOOS, City University London, UK

The only all-female team, Team BOLLEBOOS is pinning its hopes on their WEGO system, which picks up energy during taxiing. Transmitter sections on the ground, located just underneath the aircraft in the tarmac, transfer electrical power inductively to a receiver placed between the nose-wheels. This provides a sustainable energy source to power ground operations, reducing carbon emissions by half.

Airbus to Give Winning Team €30,000 Euro Prize

Students of multidisciplinary backgrounds were welcome in Airbus’s biennial Fly Your Ideas competition.

“What their ideas show us is that the next generation can bring fresh thinking to our industry and help shape the future of flight,” says Charles Champion, executive vice president of engineering at Airbus.

The remaining teams will now struggle for a €30,000 euro jackpot. The team placing second will receive a €15,000 euro reward.

The winning team will be announced at a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany on May 27, 2015.

The Fly Your Ideas competition is organized in partnership with UNESCO.

Which team are you rooting for? Let us know in the comments below.

For more details and to view videos of the finalists' reactions on hearing of their success, visit

All images courtesy Airbus and their respective teams.

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