African entrants doing well in Airbus’ Fly Your Ideas competition


A team from the University of the Witwatersrand has moved into round two of the Airbus global students’ Fly Your Ideas challenge, with the €30,000 cash prize in their in their sights. Nine African teams, representing Egypt, Ghana, Namibia and South Africa, were among the 315 that responded to the competition to propose new concepts for green air transport.

The Airbus Fly Your Ideas (FYI) contest invites students from around the world to make proposals on any or all stages of the aviation ‘Environmental Life Cycle’, an approach Airbus uses to improve the environmental performance of an aircraft and its production process in five areas: design; supply chain; manufacturing; aircraft operations and aircraft end-of-life disposal.

Individual South African and Zimbabwean students currently studying abroad have entered as members of an Australian and Swedish team respectively.
84 entries – including the ‘Green Fusion’ team from Johannesburg’s University of Witwatersrand (Wits) – have been selected to advance to the second round following a thorough questionnaire-based assessment of each teams’ proposal. The teams going through to round two will each have an Airbus mentor assigned to support them as they develop and translate their initial concepts into detailed proposals.

The biennial contest involves three progressively challenging rounds. Five teams with the most exciting projects will be chosen in May and advance to the FYI final, which will be held at the International Paris Airshow in June. The winning team will be picked by a high-profile panel of judges and take home the €30,000 first prize. The runner-up will receive €15,000.

Entries for this year’s competition were up 40 percent on the previous (and also first contest), which was run in 2008/9. More than 2 2620 students from 75 countries registered for this year’s event. Of those, 308 teams completed round one and 84 have been selected for round two.

Charles Champion, Airbus’ Executive Vice President Engineering and FYI Patron, said: “We are delighted to have received a record number of entries to the second Airbus FYI challenge and we are particularly happy to see a wide diversity of participants. By engaging with universities and young people worldwide we can continue to stimulate more new ideas for a greener aviation industry. This is part of our vision for the eco-efficient aviation industry of the future, balancing the growing demand for air travel with a better environment for all.”

The inaugural FYI competition in 2009 was won by a team of students from the University of Queensland, Australia, for its project into the use of the castor plant to develop the first ever single plant-based high performance composite materials for aircraft cabin components. They conducted a comprehensive feasibility analysis entailing fibre production and testing, demonstrating very encouraging mechanical and environmental properties.

The other three finalists were the “Big Bang Team” from Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain for its windowless cabin proposal for a new eco-efficient aircraft design; team “Kometa Brno” from Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic whose team developed a project on aircraft taxiway movements using electro-motors; and team “Stanford ADG” from Stanford University in the USA for its proposal on inverted V formation flight, building on the model of migrating birds to reduce energy consumption.