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13 May 2015
13. May 2015 Commercial Aircraft

Bird-deterring drones and game consoles inspire the future of flight


Student ideas in final race for €30,000 Airbus biennial Fly Your Ideas competition prize

Fly Your Ideas 2015: finalist celebrations

A wing-skin that harvests natural vibrations to power in-flight systems, drones that lead birds to a safe haven “birdport”, and a games console-inspired infra-red system that detects potential obstacles when taxiing, are among the ideas from university students shortlisted by Airbus in its Fly Your Ideas contest, with the five finalists now vying for the €30,000 jackpot.
These pioneering ideas have already seen off competition from over 500 entries in Airbus’ biennial global student challenge. Airbus created Fly Your Ideas, in partnership with UNESCO, to inspire the next generation of innovators by giving them the chance to experience the exciting opportunities that the aviation industry has to offer.
Diversity is a key driver of innovation and performance and this year’s finalists represent the most diverse line-up in the competition’s history, comprising of eight nationalities from nine universities, with a mix of engineering and non-engineering backgrounds and a higher percentage of female students than ever before.
Responding to key issues in aviation, the ideas had to cover one of six challenges identified by Airbus to provide sustainable future solutions where growth, efficiency and people will be at the heart of a thriving aviation industry.
The five finalist teams – from Brazil, China, Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – now travel to Hamburg, Germany, to make their case for the top prize to Airbus and industry experts on 27th May; the runners-up will share €15,000.
In contention are: 
‘Good vibrations’ energy-harvesting skin – Team MULTIFUN’, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
MULTIFUN is all about good vibrations. The team’s idea sees plane wings dressed in a composite skin that harvests energy from natural vibrations or flex in the wings. Piezoelectric fibres gather electrical charges from even the smallest movements during flight, storing the energy generated in battery panels integrated in the fuselage and using it to power auxiliary in-flight systems, such as lighting and entertainment systems. This reduces the energy footprint of aircraft during flight and could even replace the entire power source for ground operations.
Drone-guided ‘birdport’ – Team BIRDPORT’, The University of Tokyo, Japan
BIRDPORT proposes deploying a flock of drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to guide birds from airports to a comfortable habitat nearby. The drones use tactics of separation, alignment and cohesion to manipulate flocks and divert them to Birdport, where birdsong and decoys are used to create a natural and safe habitat for birds in the area. The idea is designed to reduce bird strikes to aircraft significantly and to enhance aircraft availability.
Game console-inspired infra-red guidance system – Team AFT-BURNER-REVERSER, Northwestern Polytechnical University, China
AFT-BURNER-REVERSER has applied motion-sensing technology from a games console to an aircraft guidance system for use when taxiing. The model uses infra-red and visual information to warn the pilot and ground crew of high-risk obstacles. This is designed to reduce the turnaround time of aircraft between flights and the cost of damage, saving airlines millions per year.
Faster trolley trash – Team RETROLLEY, University of São Paulo, Brazil
RETROLLEY has tackled the issue of reducing waste in-flight and cutting down the time taken to collect and sort rubbish post-flight, speeding up airline operations particularly on short-haul carriers. The team’s bespoke trolley is designed to intelligently sort rubbish and recycling by minimising the volume of foils, paper and plastic and collecting residual fluid. In doing so, the weight of galley equipment can be reduced by up to 30kg reducing fuel consumption and offering more space in-flight for refreshments.
Wireless and greener ground operations – Team BOLLEBOOS, City University London, UK
BOLLEBOOS has put forward its pioneering WEGO system that 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.
Charles Champion, Airbus Executive Vice President Engineering, says: “I congratulate the five teams for reaching the final of our Fly Your Ideas challenge. The competition as always has been incredibly tough and they can all be very proud to have got this far. What their ideas show us is that the next generation can bring fresh thinking to our industry and help shape the future of flight. That’s what Airbus Fly Your Ideas is all about.”
Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director-General of the Natural Sciences Sector, UNESCO, says: “We are proud to partner with Airbus on Fly Your Ideas. With diversity key to driving innovation, the competition gives students, both male and female, from all different backgrounds and based all over the world, the opportunity to offer their individual expertise and to experience the future of the aviation industry. We wish all the finalists good luck in the final round of the competition.”
The winning team will be announced at a ceremony in Hamburg on 27 May.
Fly Your Ideas is part of The Future by Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer’s vision of sustainable air travel in 2050.
For more details and to view videos of the finalists’ reactions on hearing of their success, visit
Notes to Editors
Airbus Fly Your Ideas is a biennial global competition, organized in partnership with UNESCO, which challenges students to innovate for the future of aviation. Taking part is a unique opportunity for students to put their classroom learning and research to the test, by working with a team of Airbus professionals on the real-world challenges facing the aviation industry. It offers students a chance to apply their creativity in an exceptional learning environment that will equip them in a highly competitive job market. Students can chose from six subjects: Efficiency, Passenger Experience, Energy, Affordable Growth, Traffic Growth, Community Friendliness.
Key figures Fly Your Ideas 2015:
A total of 518 multi-disciplinary teams representing 3,700 students from 104 countries submitted projects by December 2014
100 teams selected for Round Two, representing 413 students of 48 nationalities
45% of the teams are based in Asia-Pacific, 35% in Europe, 15% in Americas
71% of teams are made of a mix of students from different nationalities, genders, and/or studying different subjects
About half of all the teams involve female students
Round 1 (completed): From 01 September to 01 December 2014 – open to all students worldwide.
Teams were encouraged to be multi-disciplinary or diverse in another way and had to suggest an innovative idea to tackle one of the challenges facing aviation.
Round 2: 05 January to 30 March 2015 – only the best 100 teams left.
Each team is attributed an Airbus mentor and expert to help them develop their ideas further.
Round 3: Starting 29 April 2015 – with the 5 finalist teams
The finalists spend time at Airbus to fine-tune their ideas and presentation skills before presenting to an expert Jury.
Video Competition: 29 April 2015 to 18 May 2015. Eight teams were shortlisted.
Final: 27 May 2015
Previous Editions of Fly Your Ideas
Over 15,000 participants from 600+ universities in over 100 countries have participated to date
Winners 2013: Team Levar from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. They considered the sustainability of people within the industry and proposed a luggage loading and unloading system for airplane cargo compartments to reduce the workload of airport baggage handlers with an air cushion solution inspired by air hockey tables.
Winners 2011: China’s Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics won with their ground-based wind power generation system that exploits the wakes of aircraft during take-off and landing. Xinyuan Zheng, spokesperson for the team, said: “To participate in the 2011 Airbus Fly Your Ideas challenge was a great experience for us and we were very proud to win.”
Winners 2009: The multinational team ‘Coz’ from the University of Queensland, Australia, were awarded the winning prize in June 2009. Their project focused on the use of a pioneering natural fibre composite - made from castor plants - in aircraft cabins. 
2015 Finalist teams:
1.     Team Aft Burner Reverser, Northwestern Polytechnical University, China. Team members: 4 students (3 male, 1 female); all Chinese; 2 studying Engineering – Aeronautical, 2 studying Business/Finance/; all at Bachelors Level.
2.     Team Birdport, The University of Tokyo, Japan. Team members: 5 students (all male); 4 Japanese, 1 Thai; studying Engineering; 2 at Masters Level, 3 at Bachelors Level.
3.     Team Multifun, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands. Team members: 5 students (all male); all Indians; 1 student is studying Engineering – Aerospace and 1 student is studying Natural Sciences in India at the Indian Institute of Science, 1 student is studying Natural Sciences in the UK at City University London, 1 student is studying Natural Sciences in the USA at Georgia Institute of Technology, 1 student is studying Natural Sciences in the Netherlands at Delft University of Technology; 4 at PhD Level, 1 at Master Level.
4.     Team Retrolley, University of São Paulo, Brazil. Team members: 5 students (3 male, 2 female); all Brazilians; studying Engineering (1 student studying in the UK at the University of the Arts, 1 student is studying in Italy at the Technical University of Milan, 3 students are studying at the University of São Paulo, Brazil); all at Bachelors Level.
5.     Team Bolleboos, City University London, United Kingdom. Team members: 3 students (all female); 1 Spanish, 1 Dutch, 1 Italian; 1 student is studying Business/Finance/Management and 2 students are studying Engineering – Aerospace at PhD Level.

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