By The Nation
The radical concepts selected cover a wide range of innovations. going from an alternative to satellite imagery to improved aircraft taxiing, clever ways of boarding, new areas for luggage storage and offering a new business model using existing Airbus aircraft.
Representing nine different nationalities and eight universities across Africa, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, the five finalist teams embody true diversity, which is a key driver of innovation and performance, Airbus says.
The students, competing for a 30,000-euro (Bt1.1 million) prize, also demonstrate a wide variety of disciplines, from natural sciences to engineering and business.
Their inventive ideas were selected from more than 350 entries in Airbus’s biennial global student competition, run in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
Students’ ideas had to answer one of five challenges identified by Airbus to provide sustainable future solutions. The innovations proposed by the five finalist teams look at alternative business models, passengers’ experience and flight operations.
The five finalist teams – from Australia, France, Hong Kong, Nigeria and the United Kingdom – will soon travel to Toulouse, France, where they will spend a week at the Airbus ProtoSpace facility to prototype, test and visualise their ideas using state-of-the-art equipment with personal guidance from Airbus.
At the end of their week at Airbus, the students will present their innovative projects and the newly developed prototype in front of Airbus experts and personalities from the aerospace and academic world.
The ideas competing for the final prize are the following.
Airborne Earth Observation – Team SkyVision, University of Surrey, England: A radical concept that turns a commercial airliner into an “Earth Observation Device” by installing equipment in the belly of the aircraft to monitor ground activity during flight. An alternative to satellite imagery, it opens up new opportunities such as ecology analysis and urban planning.
Improving Airport Taxi Flow and Efficiency – Team Nevada, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria: An airport taxiing system that uses sensors and algorithms for automated ground traffic control, both in the tower and on the aircraft, to improve aircraft traffic significantly at airports and thus reduce emissions.
Compact Luggage Strategy Mobile App – Team PassEx, Institut d’Administration des Entreprises – IAE Toulouse, France: A revolutionary boarding system that uses a real-time mobile app to assign boarding status to passengers according to their luggage size. The Compact Luggage Strategy addresses current storage issues in over-head compartments by distributing passengers across the aircraft according to the size of their baggage.
Private Stowage Compartment – Team DAELead, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
A clever aircraft cabin design that locates a Private Stowage Compartment (PSC) underneath passengers’ feet, utilizing the space between the cabin floor and the cargo ceiling.
A400M Aerial Firefighting Platform – Team Aquarius, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia: A firefighting solution that incorporates modular systems using pressurized fire-retardant containers fixed to fast-loadable pallets for a network of Airbus A400M aircraft, to create a system of aerial firefighting platforms that can be used for rapid wildfire suppression.
The winning team will receive a 30,000-euro prize, with the runner-up team receiving 15,000 euros, at a live event on May 17 in Toulouse.