• Olympian and astronaut launch programme for Bristol students
  • The programme aims to motivate young students to continue towards higher education

At the launch of the UK’s first Flying Challenge programme, 30 young people from Bristol Metropolitan Academy in Fishponds met Olympian Kriss Akabusi and French Astronaut Claudie Haigneré. The programme sees the 13 and 14 year old students embark on a unique and potentially life-changing opportunity to work with Airbus volunteers. During the year-long programme they will learn about flight, careers in aviation, develop new skills, and gain practical experience.

The Flying Challenge programme, which is the Airbus Foundation’s largest youth mentoring programme, will include 20 weekly sessions at Airbus where they will get “behind the scenes” access to aviation design and test experts and facilities on the Filton site. They will also visit other aviation organisations in the Bristol area including Rolls Royce and Bristol airport and have a flying lesson. By the time they graduate from the Flying Challenge, participants will have undertaken a wide range of aerospace experiences, worked with committed employee mentors, completed a skills portfolio and worked towards a nationally recognised qualification.

This Airbus Foundation programme is being supported by two local charities ABLAZE, who aim to raise young people's aspiration, attainment and skill levels, and fly2help, who use the power of flight to help people change their lives.

About the Airbus Foundation

The Airbus Foundation, chaired by Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus Group, includes Airbus, Airbus Helicopters and Airbus Defence and Space as founding and contributing members. It is the company’s vehicle for corporate philanthropy, using the Group’s resources, aeronautic and space products, competencies, diverse workforce and culture for driving innovation to address societal issues. In particular, the Foundation supports the global humanitarian community and inspires and prepares young people for the challenges of tomorrow. Since its launch in December 2008, the Airbus Foundation has facilitated more than 47 relief or goodwill flights to numerous destinations around the globe. More information can be found at:

Trevor Higgs, UK Head of Engineering at Airbus said: “This cohort of students will be the UK’s first to embark on the journey. We at Airbus in Filton are proud to be a part of these students’ lives, and look forward to seeing their talents develop over the coming year.”

Phillipa Evans, Design and Technology Teacher at Bristol Metropolitan Academy said: “Today has been a really great opportunity to engage and meet with the team from Airbus at the start of this amazing project, our students are really excited and looking forward to this huge challenge. Our students were also inspired to hear from three times Olympic medallist, athlete Kriss Akabusi and Astronaut Claudie Haigneré about their hard work and effort that took them to the top of their professions! A truly inspiring morning for staff and students alike.”

Since the start of the Airbus Flying Challenge in 2012 around 1,460 young students across France, Spain and the USA have completed the programme. They have been mentored by 585 Airbus Group employee volunteers.


Daniel Werdung+ 49 89 607 34275
Vicky Runcie+ 44 11 793 64061