Fly Your Ideas Challenges 2015

We want students to propose ideas that correspond to six key challenges for aviation in the 21st Century.

Find out more about the six areas we have identified by clicking on each challenge on the right


  • Energy

    Energy

    The cost of powering aircraft with jet fuel, the current source of aviation energy will rise as...

  • Efficiency

    Efficiency

    Driving down the real costs (monetary and environmental) of aviation will be achieved by...

  • Affordable Growth

    Affordable Growth

    We’ll need more aircraft to meet this extra demand and replace existing aircraft, with an...

  • Traffic Growth

    Traffic Growth

    Since the 1980s the number of flights has more than doubled allowing more people around the world to...

  • Passenger Experience

    Passenger Experience

    Passengers want safety and efficiency with comfort and entertainment on board - but the...

  • Community Friendliness

    Community Friendliness

    As airports have grown, so too have the communities around them, benefiting from the...

Energy

The cost of powering those aircraft with jet fuel, the current source of aviation energy, will rise as reserves reduce. Fuel is currently 25% or more of an airline’s operating cost and we can now fly almost twice as far on each kilo of fuel than 40 years ago. However, we’re now flying ten times further than we were in the ‘70s.

Energy

ENERGY

Jet fuel is the current source of aviation energy.  As reserves reduce, prices will rise. Although air travel is much more fuel efficient than 40 year ago (we can now fly almost twice as far on each kilo of fuel), we are also now flying 10 times further than in the 1970’s, so our overall level of consumption has increased.

Fuel is currently 25% or more of an airline’s operating cost. But prices are volatile and subject to external pressures – for example, political uncertainties in oil-producing nations.  


RECENT AIRBUS INNOVATIONS 

The Electric Plane - the Airbus E-FAN

This is a small experimental aircraft powered entirely by electricity. Its current maximum flying time is around 30 minutes, which we hope extend to over an hour. Next, we want to expand the E-FAN into a 4 seater aircraft, using a hybrid system, with the eventual aim of expanding electric power into wider commercial flight, and so reduce the sector's jet fuel use.

But here’s the conundrum. The A380 has a wingspan of 262 feet and can theoretically carry up to 853 people, but the diminutive E-Fan 2.0 has a wingspan of just 31 feet and carries 2 passengers.


AIRBUS FUTURE CONCEPTS

Biofuel

Sustainable aviation fuels produced from renewable resources can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% per tonne of fuel. Finding sustainable fuels that can be produced in commercial quantities (without competing with food crops and water supplies) is the only medium-term alternative to fossil fuels in order to power large commercial jetliners.

Alternative fuels have powered around 1,500 commercial flights to date. We believe that up to a third of aviation fuel could come from alternative sources by 2030.


Fuel Cells

A fuel cell transforms chemical energy from a fuel (such as hydrogen) into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen, or another oxidizing agent. The only waste is water, heat and oxygen-depleted air, which would contribute to reductions in emissions and noise when applied aboard an airliner.

Water produced from this process also can be used by the aircraft’s water and waste systems, so reducing the amount of water an aircraft needs on board. Reducing weight will also decrease fuel consumption and emissions.

As far back as 2008, Airbus, DLR and Michelin performed flight evaluations of a fuel cell emergency power system on a test bed A320. The fuel cell was installed on a cargo pallet and produced 25 kW of electrical power – operating the electric motor pump for the aircraft’s back-up hydraulic circuit, and controlling the spoilers, ailerons and elevator actuator.



OVER TO YOU

How will your idea accelerate one of these initiatives into commercial development? Or perhaps you’ve got another way of solving the energy challenge for us to explore?


Efficiency

Driving down the real costs (monetary and environmental) of aviation will be achieved by continuing to improve the efficiency of new aircraft, make better use of resources and improve business performance all round.


Efficiency

EFFICIENCY

The real cost of providing air transport services has decreased by over 60%. This reduction has been largely passed on to passengers, enabling more people than ever to fly.  But there’s more pressure than ever to find efficiencies, as costs like fuel increase. Continuing to driving down the real costs (both monetary and environmental) of aviation will be achieved by 

  • continuing to improve the efficiency of new aircraft
  • making better use of resources
  • improving business performance all round


RECENT AIRBUS INNOVATIONS 

There are 5 key aspects of the aviation life cycle that we believe contribute to improving efficiency: Design, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, Operations and Aircraft End-of-Life. It’s our commitment to these principles that has led to the development of the very latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies in the A350 XWB to provide a 25% step-change in fuel efficiency compared to its current long-range competitor. 

The Perfect Flight

A ‘perfect flight’ brings together best practices to reduce the air transport sector’s environmental footprint, combining the operation of Airbus’ fuel-efficient modern aircraft, using sustainable aviation fuels, streamlined Air Traffic Management (ATM) procedures and optimised operations.

The first North American ‘Perfect Flight’ took place during June 2012 in a joint effort between Airbus and Air Canada. This activity utilised an A319 flying from Toronto to Mexico City, with the aircraft powered by a 50% sustainable aviation fuel blend made with used cooking oil. Further enhancements to this flight’s eco-efficiency included streamlined Air Traffic Management (ATM) procedures, use of Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) into the destination area, single-engine taxiing on the ground and external cleaning for improved aerodynamics. 

In August 2013, Airbus and Air Canada received aeronautical publication Air Transport World’s Eco-partnership Award in honour of their successful ‘Perfect Flight’ collaboration.


AIRBUS FUTURE CONCEPTS

Biomimicry

What do velvet, the skin of a shark, and advancements in aircraft aerodynamics have in common? The answer rests in a field of scientific study that involves examining what can be extracted, learned and duplicated from the natural world. 

Known as ‘biomimicry’, or biologically inspired engineering, this is the study and imitation of nature’s best ideas to help solve human challenges. A growing number of aeronautical innovations have been inspired by an array of natural structures, organs and materials – and these tried and tested patterns of the natural world will continue to be a powerful source of inspiration in the future. 

The Concept Plane

This is the result of future-gazing by Airbus to explore blueprints for radical aircraft interiors.  Our engineers envision morphing seats made from ecological, self-cleaning materials which change shape for a snug fit… walls that become see-through at the touch of a button, affording 360-degree views of the world below … and holographic projections of virtual decors, allowing travellers to transform their private cabin into an office, bedroom or even a zen garden.



OVER TO YOU

How will your idea accelerate one of these initiatives into commercial development? Or perhaps you’ve got another way of solving the efficiency challenge for us to explore?


Affordable Growth

We’ll need more aircraft to meet this extra demand and replace existing aircraft, with an operating life of 20 to 30 years, with more fuel efficient variants. This means affordable growth is essential - by lowering the cost of manufacturing and increasing reliability and efficiency of passenger aircraft.

Affordable Growth

AFFORDABLE GROWTH

The aviation industry has grown rapidly over the last few decades, as more people in emerging markets reach income levels that enable them to fly, and use the aviation industry as powerful enabler of economic development.  There are new customers, new connections, and more flights than ever before. 

We’ll need more aircraft to meet this extra demand and replace existing aircraft (with an operating life of 20 to 30 years) with more fuel efficient variants.

Affordable growth - by lowering the cost of manufacturing and increasing reliability and efficiency of passenger aircraft – is essential to meet the growing passenger market


RECENT AIRBUS INNOVATIONS

We’re already using pioneering technology like composite materials to build lighter, longer lasting aircraft. But to keep up with demand, we need to find new ways of improving processes, and use new materials and technology to reduce costs.


AIRBUS FUTURE CONCEPTS

Bionic Structures

Future aircraft could be built using a bionic structure that mimics the bone structure of birds. Bone is both light and strong, because its porous interior carries tension only where necessary, leaving space elsewhere.

By using bionic structures, the fuselage has the strength it needs, but can also make the most of extra space where required. This not only reduces the aircraft's weight and fuel burn, but also makes it possible to add features like oversized doors for easier boarding, as well as panoramic windows.

Biopolymer membrane

The aircraft cabin's bionic structure will be coated with a biopolymer membrane, which controls the amount of natural light, humidity and temperature, providing opacity or transparency on command and eliminating the need for windows.

This smarter structure will make the aircraft lighter and more fuel-efficient while giving passengers 360 degree views of the skies, with unparalleled, unobstructed views - imagine seeing the Pyramids or the Eiffel Tower through the transparent walls of an airplane.

Composite Materials

Future materials may be very different to the materials we see and use today. In the future materials may not even take a solid state, but could be a composition of fluid and gas, for example.



OVER TO YOU

How will your idea accelerate one of these initiatives into commercial development? Or perhaps you’ve got another way of solving the affordable growth challenge for us to explore?


Traffic Growth

Since the 1980s the number of flights has more than doubled, allowing more people around the world to enjoy the benefits of air transport. People want to fly and people want to fly more. As economies grow and people get wealthier, we predict that traffic growth will continue to double in the next 15 years, making the skies extremely busy and taking airports to maximum capacity.


Traffic Growth

TRAFFIC GROWTH

People want to fly and people want to fly more. As economies grow and people get wealthier, we predict that traffic growth will continue to double in the next 15 years, taking airports to maximum capacity.

Over the past 30 years, passengers have benefited from a 250% rise in the number of weekly frequencies, valued by time-sensitive business travellers.

But extra flights require new airport infrastructure, air traffic control and airspace in already crowded skies, whilst maintaining maximum levels of safety and security. 

Adding capacity (new runways or terminal buildings) to existing airports, or building new airports is often a contentious and politicized process, often involving government intervention, as stakeholders consider the impact of congestion from flight delays, and the environmental impacts of noise and fuel consumption. 


RECENT AIRBUS INNOVATION

With new generation technology like ELISE (Exact Landing Interference Simulation Environment), Airbus is already facilitating safer aircraft landings with its advanced software. And the pioneering ‘steep approach’ capabilities of the A318 enable Airbus aircraft to land on shorter runways in built up areas. 

Required Navigation Performance (RNP) represents the latest in navigation techniques, allowing aircraft to fly precisely along a predefined route using state-of-the-art on-board navigation systems and the Global Positioning System (GPS) – resulting in improved efficiency, capacity and environmental performance.


AIRBUS FUTURE CONCEPTS

Smarter Skies

Even today, fully optimised (ATM) systems and technology on board aircraft could enable every flight in the world (estimated at 30 million annually) to be on average 13 minutes shorter. 

This would save around 9 million tonnes of excess fuel annually, or over 28 million tonnes of avoidable CO2 emissions, and over 500 fewer hours of excess flight times on board an aircraft for passengers. 

Combined with new aircraft design, alternative energy sources and new ways of flying and we predict even more significant improvements.

Express Skyways

In the future, highly intelligent aircraft would be able to ‘self-organise’ and select the most efficient and environmentally friendly routes (‘free flight) – to make optimum use of prevailing weather and atmospheric conditions. 

Trailing planes can effectively ‘surf’ on the energy coming from the wing tip vortices of the preceding aircraft, just as cyclists take advantage of the slipstream of other riders. This reduces drag, which increases fuel efficiency and minimises engine emissions.

Flights to and from the same area could rendezvous in mid-air before continuing their journey. This also would offer the potential to streamline air traffic control workload by treating each flock of aircraft as a single entity.



OVER TO YOU

How will your idea accelerate one of these initiatives into commercial development? Or perhaps you’ve got another way of solving the traffic growth challenge for us to explore?


Passenger Experience

Passengers want safety and efficiency with comfort and entertainment on board - but the passenger experience begins before you fly. On short haul flights, the time spent on check-in and boarding alone can frustratingly take longer than the flight itself, and this doesn’t include and time spent on baggage management.

Passenger Experience

PASSENGER EXPERIENCE

Passengers want safety and efficiency with comfort and entertainment on board - but the passenger experience begins before you fly. On short haul flights, the time spent on check-in and boarding alone can frustratingly take longer than the flight itself, not counting time spent on baggage management.

Travelling by airplane is still by far the fastest way for passengers to travel but the time and inconvenience of recently introduced security measures have had considerable impact on the passenger experience. 

Business travellers tend to require fastest possible transport options, older travellers seek greater comfort and convenience, leisure travellers (especially from emerging markets) are particularly sensitive to cost. 

Passenger growth from around the world is resulting in an increasingly socially, culturally, and ethnically diverse pool of customers each with unique needs. 


RECENT AIRBUS INNOVATION

Setting The Standards For Comfort

The A320 sets the standards for passenger comfort, with the widest fuselage of any single-aisle aircraft. Our engineers have developed a catalytic converter that removes foul odours from the air before it is pumped into a jetliner’s cabin. 

Airbus pioneered connectivity and we were the first manufacturer to receive certification for its on-board mobile phone system in June 2007. Our cabins are the quietest cabins in the sky, which greatly contributes to passengers feeling rested on reaching their destination. 

Airbus was the first manufacturer to introduce ambient lighting which has now become more widely adopted across the air transport industry. 

Anticipating Needs

We have embarked on a two-year global consultation with more than 1.75 million people at airshows, events and online, as part of the Future by Airbus programme – our vision of sustainable aviation in 2050. 

  • 63% of people worldwide say they will fly more by 2050 
  • 60% do not think social media will replace the need to see people face-to-face 
  • 96% believe aircraft will need to be more sustainable or ‘eco-efficient’ 
  • Almost 40% feel air travel (door-to-door) is increasingly stressful 
  • 86% of people think less fuel burn is key and 85% a reduction in carbon emissions 
  • 66% want quieter aircraft and 65% planes which are fully recyclable


AIRBUS FUTURE CONCEPTS

Air Traffic Management to the 4th Dimension

Known as I-4D (Initial-4D), this trailblazing technology’s main benefits will be a significant reduction of fuel burn and C02 emissions. The I-4D system relies on airborne computed predictions in ground systems to establish a sequence for all air traffic converging to a merging point in a congested area. 

We call it 4D-trajectory because it manages trajectory in three dimensions (lateral, longitudinal and vertical), and includes one target time at a specific merging point (with time as the fourth dimension). Advantages will include better predictability of the traffic flows and the facilitation of highly efficient Continuous Descent Operations into airports. 

The Airbus Concept Cabin

Based on extensive research into the way the world's population is changing, the Airbus Concept Cabin illustrates what the future of flight might look like from the passengers' perspective. 

Inspired by nature - and designed to protect it - aircraft cabins of the future will be customised to the needs of individual passengers.



OVER TO YOU

How will your idea accelerate one of these initiatives into commercial development? Or perhaps you’ve got another way of solving the passenger experience challenge for us to explore?


Community Friendliness

As airports have grown, so too have the communities around them.  They benefit from the jobs and commerce that are drawn to airports, but at times also suffer from increases to airport operations. Reducing noise, air pollution and local traffic congestion means community friendliness has to be considered, especially as capacity around the world increases.

Community Friendliness

COMMUNITY FRIENDLINESS

As airports have grown, so too have the communities around them. They benefit from the jobs and commerce that are drawn to airports, but at times they can also suffer from increases to airport operations.

Reducing noise, air pollution and local traffic congestion means community friendliness must be considered, as capacity around the world increases.

26 ‘megacities’ of the world (with populations in excess of 10 million) account for more than 20% of air travel worldwide. This creates considerable local impact, in particular environmental costs from noise, air pollution and ground transport congestion.

But in spite of a considerable rise in the number of aircraft movements there has been a reduction in the number of people exposed to noise levels. This has allowed the expansion of services at some densely populated city hubs that otherwise would have been constrained.

Specialized support businesses tend to cluster around major hub airport cities providing employment opportunities and enriching the local economy.


RECENT AIRBUS INNOVATIONS

Steep Approach

Downtown airports such as the UK’s London City typically feature shorter runways, stringent noise constraints and tall buildings or other obstacles in the vicinity – making regular flight operations more difficult for aircraft larger than regional airliners.

As a result, Airbus has been pioneering ‘steep approach’ capabilities with the A318 member of its best-selling A320 Family. In addition being able to land on short runways, the A318’s steep approach procedure enables a 5.5 degree descent angle rather than the standard 3 degrees.

In operations from London City, the A318 climbs and reaches cruising altitude more quickly than any other aircraft operating out of the airport, with significantly reduced noise compared to previous-generation jetliners.


AIRBUS FUTURE CONCEPTS

Free Glide Approaches and Landings

Allowing aircraft to take free glide approaches into airports would lower emissions during the overall decent and reduce noise during the steeper approach as there is no need for engine thrust or air breaking.

These approaches also would reduce the landing speed earlier, making shorter landing distances achievable, with less runway needed.

Ground Operations

On landing, aircraft engines could be switched off sooner, runways cleared faster and ground handling emissions could be cut. Technology could optimise an aircraft’s landing position with enough accuracy for an autonomous renewably-powered taxiing carriage to be ready, so aircraft could be transported away from runways quicker, which would optimise terminal space, and remove runway and gate limitations.

Eco-Climb

Aircraft launched through assisted takeoffs using renewably-powered, propelled acceleration will allow for steeper climb from airports to minimise noise and reach efficient cruise altitudes more quickly.

As space becomes a premium and mega-cities a reality, this approach also could minimise land use, as shorter runways could be utilised.



OVER TO YOU

How will your idea accelerate one of these initiatives into commercial development? Or perhaps you’ve got another way of solving the community friendliness challenge for us to explore?