Pioneering student team from the Netherlands wins Airbus Fly Your Ideas 2019 global competition

Aerospace and academic experts from Airbus and the International Space University (Strasbourg) have selected Team “Zero” Heroes from Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, as winner of the Airbus Fly Your Ideas 2019 global student competition. The team convinced the expert jury with their smart batteryless wireless switches for aircraft systems that provide power at your fingertips and can now look forward to the top prize of 25,000 euros. Team “Zero” Heroes prevailed against 269 submitted ideas and six other teams in the final round.

All seven finalist teams spent an amazing final week in Toulouse, France, prototyping their idea in Airbus’ cutting-edge Innovation and R&D facilities with support from dedicated Airbus mentors and experts using state-of-the-art equipment. On June 27, the teams presented their projects to a panel of Airbus aerospace and academic experts plus a global live-stream audience.

The jury was impressed by the innovative spirit and economic understanding of the students from Team ”Zero” Heroes. Their development of wireless systems solves the main limitation for IoT in aircraft by removing battery integration – a current challenge for safety and regulation. Furthermore, it reduces fuel consumption and weight while simplifying aircraft retrofit and maintenance needs.

The runners-up, team AirFish from the University of Cambridge, UK, convinced with their exceptional idea of an ocean monitoring system using a satellite imagery and video imaging technology. Their development can help governments combat illegal fishing, reduce bycatch of endangered species, and generally decrease damages to the marine habitat.

Airbus Fly Your Ideas is a global competition challenging students worldwide to innovate for the future of aerospace in six key areas: Electrification, Data Services, Cyber Security, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality.

Since its launch by Airbus in 2008 and the signing of a partnership agreement with UNESCO in 2012, over 22,000 students have registered for Fly Your Ideas from over 700 universities and 100 countries worldwide, with more than 500 Airbus employees contributing their mentorship and expertise to support the competition.

This year’s finalist teams represent 11 countries and 8 different universities across Asia, Europe and South-America.

The winning team received a prize of €25,000 and €10,000 were awarded to the runner-up project. An additional €10,000 was shared between the remaining finalist teams.

Meet the Fly Your Ideas Jury

Thank you to our Fly Your Ideas 2019 Jury! This esteemed panel of experts had the difficult task of choosing the winning team. Keep reading to learn more about them.

Marc Fontaine
Digital Transformation Officer, Airbus

Over the next decade, the digital revolution will have a major impact on the aerospace industry. In realising the potential of this revolution for Airbus, Marc leads the deployment of Digital Technology across the Airbus Divisions. Previously, Marc was the Company Secretary of Airbus Commercial Aircraft, Chief of Staff to former CEOs Fabrice Brégier and Tom Enders, and member of Airbus’ Executive Committee. In 2002, he became CEO of Istar, a digital technology company, before joining Eurocopter, the helicopter manufacturer, two years later as the CEO’s Chief of Staff and Company Secretary. Marc graduated with a degree in business from the EDHEC School of Management in Lille, France and holds an MBA from Aston Business School in the UK. He has set up a few small ventures in publishing and apps development.

Sandra Bour Schaeffer
HO Airbus Group Demonstrators and CEO of ExO Alpha

Airbus ExO Alpha is a subsidiary of Airbus designed to accelerate traditional research cycles and prototype development to achieve proof of concept in a real environment and at a convincing scale and speed. In her role, she is actively shaping the future of aerospace industry by using flying demonstrators as the principal means of evaluating, maturing and validating new products and services that encompass radical technological breakthroughs. Sandra started her career as a Fluid Mechanics Research Engineer at SNECMA before joining Airbus in 2001 to work on the PW6000 engine (A318). She holds a PhD from SupAero and an Engineering degree from l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et d’Aérotechnique (ENSMA).

Marcella Hoffmann
SVP HRBP, Airbus

Marcella Hoffmann was appointed Head of HR Business Partner for the Airbus division and Human Resources Business Partner to the COO Airbus early 2014. In this role, she supersedes around 300 Human Resources Business Partners around the world and is responsible for the HR operational activities in Airbus. Since mid-2017, in addition she took responsibility of the former HQ HRBPs and of Talent & Executive management and is now leading all HR operations for Airbus Commercial. Marcella joined Airbus in 2001, specialising in Human Resources Management. She started her career in the corporate HR Leadership Development team prior to joining the Executive Vice President Human Resources as his Executive Assistant. Marcella holds a degree in Business Administration specialised in European Management.

Taiwo Tejumola
Assistant Professor of Space Applications, the International Space University, France

Born in Nigeria, Taiwo received his Master and PhD degrees in Space Systems Engineering at the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), Japan. At Kyutech’s Laboratory of Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering (LaSEINE), Taiwo developed a plasma measurement system for characterising low Earth orbit grade plasma that was integrated as a mission payload for the HORYU-IV satellite. Taiwo received the 2017 Airbus Diversity Award for leading the design, development and operation of a constellation of five 1U CubeSats, launched in July 2017 and operated from seven interconnected ground stations across the world.

We’re having a party… and you’re invited

Grab the popcorn and bring your friends. The viewing party of the year is coming!

Fly Your Ideas goes LIVE on 27 June from 3PM CEST, and we want you to join the conversation.

Click HERE to join the Facebook Event page.

To receive Facebook video notifications, you need to:

1. Like the Fly Your Ideas Facebook page

2. Click on Following – Notifications – select the ‘edit’ icon

3. Turn on notifications

This is a very special opportunity to watch the 2019 finalist teams present their projects to the Jury, and to be part of the exciting moment when we announce the winning team.

You can also share your thoughts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram using #flyyourideas.

Any questions? Get in touch via Facebook or email

See you at the Live Final!

Meet the Fly Your Ideas finalists

More than 22,000 students have been involved in Fly Your Ideas over the past 10 years, but only a small selection have ever made it to Round 3. In this article, we present the daring students who will take to the stage this week to present their innovations to the world.


The University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Three of us come from Indonesia, and one comes from Japan, where fisheries form a big part of the economy and life in general. Airbus Integrated Fisheries Management System (AirFish) is our answer to existing challenge faced by the global fisheries industry: depletion of fish stocks due to overfishing. AirFish proposes the usage of a constellation of microsatellites that will enable a fast, accurate and economical ocean monitoring system.

Competing in a business competition is very common for MBA students, as it gives you a good opportunity to train your business acumen and creativity in an almost real-life setting. Fly Your Ideas is the right competition for us to develop an idea with the potential to make an impact, both in the aerospace industry and in society.


Saarland University, Germany

We are enthusiastic engineers always in search of new ways to push the boundaries of the current engineering paradigm. We are building a comprehensive quality inspection solution which concentrates on assessing the quality of the rivets by gathering data from different sensors and a camera. The data is then passed through a trained AI model and visualisation of the results is done through HoloLens.

We hope our solution can be deployed in the real production and maintenance of all kinds of machines, making industrial production more advanced and future ready.


Politecnico di Milano, Italy

A proverb says, ‘necessity is the mother of inventions.’ The Smart Wheelchair for Air-travel Needs (SWAN) aims to revolutionise the experience of Passengers with Reduced Mobility (PRM) by converting a redesigned class of detachable airplane seats into wheelchairs. It is fully controllable by smartphone through a dedicated app.

A student of Politecnico di Milano and swimming paralympic champion, Giulia Ghiretti, inspired us during the project: she reminded us of the importance of taking always account of the needs of the users of the idea and made us aware of the positive potential outcomes of SWAN. We are motivated to make a real change in the state of art and to be an example of a new perspective, which we hope will guide the whole industry.


The University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom

Our idea replaces traditional methods of cooling electric motors via a water jacket, with a network of internally located cooling channels, to dramatically decrease weight and allow the motors to run more efficiently and at higher power settings. We are inspired by the methods of cooling rocket engines and how this can be applied to enable highly power dense electric motors.

We are passionate about reducing the catastrophic consequences of climate change at the hands of our favourite technology, aircraft. We find flying to be extremely awe-inspiring and hate the idea that the aerospace industry is somehow inevitably always going to use fossil fuels but following our research we now know this not to be the case.


The University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

The Solar Windmill is a novel method of power generation designed for space. By tapping into high energy particles in planetary radiation belts generated by solar wind, our project aims to unlock a new form of renewable energy that is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than current methods.

We believe that many problems, like the trouble radiation belts pose to space travel, are simply misunderstood solutions. We hope that we could inspire young people to think about space and how they might contribute, just like we were by the likes of Curiosity. With any idea you believe in, seize it and try to make it work – it just might change the world.

The ‘Zero’ Heroes

Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands

One of the main topics in our research group at our university is low-power communication on zero-energy systems, one of the most prominent research areas for the factories of the future. However, no research is done on the implementation of such systems in the aerospace industry, which would reduce the weight, maintenance time, and fuel consumption.

We present a batteryless wireless switch that can be used in a variety of applications in airplanes entailing ON-OFF triggers within the aircraft interior. Potential applications of our system include flight crew service, controlling overhead reading light, monitoring seatbelt latch, detecting life jackets under the seats, baggage cabin door lock, and seat position detection.


National University of La Plata, Argentina

Our cost-effective and easy-to-use app provides an integrated service for stockbreeders based on Earth observation, meteorological and IoT data. The app aims to provide actionable information to stockbreeders on quality and quantity of pastures, number of animals in paddocks as well as the physical condition of cattle.

We came up with the idea after meeting a stockbreeder who was about to leave his business because of the huge amount of time it demands. The opportunity to develop our idea and introduce it in the aerospace market motivated us to enter Fly Your Ideas. We wonder how many people (and Argentinians) we could help with this app!

We hope you enjoyed learning about the finalist projects and the inspiration behind them. Remember to tune in on the Fly Your Ideas Facebook page on 27 June from 3pm CEST to watch the finalists’ presentations LIVE.

Teamwork makes the dream work: Airbus Mentor shares his Fly Your Ideas wisdom

Danny Antons, Project Lead for the Airbus Ramp-Up 2.0 Initiative, has an impressive track record in the Fly Your Ideas competition. Having previously mentored Birdport (finalists, 2015) and DaeLead (winners, 2017), Danny will soon be returning to the Live Final for the third time with Team Move-ez. Today, Danny shares his wisdom with Fly Your Ideas fans around the world!

What are the secrets to Fly Your Ideas success?

In my perspective, several key elements are required to become a finalist team. First, a collaborative team spirit. They act as a team and they understand that everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses. In this way, they think about how to steer the activities in the best way, so that everybody can do their best.

The enthusiasm for the challenge is another important factor. Even if something is not working well, they always keep looking for solutions.

They also have a clear roadmap. They take care of the planning and what needs to be organised to be on time.

How would you describe your mentoring style?

I always believe in the dynamic of the teams. I try to encourage the teams to be creative, think outside of the box and be inspired by their environment, sometimes nature can be your best teacher.

The team members often know very well what needs to be done, but they are not always confident about their approach. I try to show different options and provide an outside perspective.

Fly Your Ideas gives students a platform to learn from Airbus employees, but as a Mentor, have you learned something from the teams?

Yes, many things! I have learned that teamwork and diversity are the major success factors for becoming a finalist team.

We know that you remain in touch with your former mentees and have even attended the wedding of one finalist. What is the value of the connections made through Fly Your Ideas, for both the Mentor and the students?

If you are going together through such a journey to the final round, you build up a close relationship with the teams. During the preparation time, we have frequent Skype meetings together and share numerous WhatsApp messages. The team involve me in their exchanges, and we get to know one other.

What do you enjoy most about Fly Your Ideas?

For me it’s a gift to have the opportunity to get in touch with these guys and sometimes even become good friends. They share the enthusiasm and collaborative spirit with me, and this makes me feel good! It’s inspiring!

An exclusive look at the facilities available to Airbus Fly Your Ideas finalists

Fly Your Ideas teams have been given the incredible opportunity to spend three days at Airbus’ state-of-the-art innovation facilities in Toulouse, France to further develop, prototype or visualise their ideas. On 27 June, the teams will present their creation to an international panel of experts, livestreamed in parallel to a global audience. Keep reading to learn about the exciting spaces and facilities that Airbus has to offer.


ProtoSpace is the ultimate ‘sandbox’ for aerospace engineers, designers and innovators. Teams will have access to state-of-the-art technology including an IT and Electronics lab, 3D printers, a model cockpit, and more.

ProtoSpace contains the AIR² lab, where Artificial Intelligence is tested and demonstrated.

In the Electronics lab, teams will be able to develop electronics and bring smart functions to their prototype with various levels of complexity in their demonstration, including low level demonstration with arduinos, medium level demonstration with Raspberry Pi or other computing resources, and high level demonstration with custom made Printed Circuit Boards.

In the Mechanical lab, teams will have access to tools, machines and support to make any physical parts. Cutting, drilling, welding, laser and water cutter, and 3D Printing will be accessible.

The Integration lab is where teams can bring everything together into their smart demo: IT, electronics, and physical parts. This is a large workspace equipped with the handling means and tools to put together a demonstrator of significant scale and perform operations such as de-risking trials, evaluations, installation and testing.


iStudio is Airbus’ entry point to boost IT innovation and to connect the business with the right technologies. Finalists will be able to access the tools and resources that Airbus employees use to try out, improve and implement radical innovations for the future of flight.

Holographic Academy

At the Holographic Academy, teams can use all possible Mixed Reality technologies including helmet, glasses, tablets and phones, to bring their ideas to life.

Electrical Power & Engineering Laboratory

This lab is the place to design, prototype and test solutions for support activities in the field of energy storage, energy generation, electronics, electrical distribution, EMC, RF and wireless.

The Airbus Fly Your Ideas competition is a truly unique opportunity for the seven finalist teams to get hands-on with their ideas and enjoy unprecedented access to Airbus’ in-house innovation facilities. Stay tuned on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for more exclusive insights!

Congratulations to the Video Competition winner!

A team of digital communications specialists at Airbus selected the ten most creative videos submitted by teams in Round 2 to go through to a public vote.

After three weeks of campaigning and 18,000 votes cast, we are delighted to reveal that Team Pandawacakra from Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia has been selected as the Video Competition winning team. Watch their video here.

Pandawacakra received more than 8,000 votes on their Mixed Reality video about their idea to incorporate VR headsets in the aircraft cabin. Congratulations!

Honourable mentions to Team Move-ez from Politecnico di Milano, Italy, and Team Seren from the University of Cambridge, UK, who placed 2nd and 3rd respectively.

A big thank you to everyone who cast their vote and showed their support for the shortlisted teams.

As the Video Competition winners, each member of Pandawacakra will receive a tech prize.

But the biggest prize is yet to be awarded – stay tuned on Facebook to follow the seven Fly Your Ideas 2019 finalist teams as they prepare for their journey to Toulouse and the Airbus Fly Your Ideas Live Final on 27 June 2019!

Video Competition: Vote now for your favourite

A team of digital communications specialists at Airbus reviewed the videos created by teams in Round 2. The ten most creative have been selected for the Video Competition – with tech prizes for the team with the most votes.

Teams represented in the Video Competition are based in Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK. Their videos address a range of exciting digital challenges for the future of aerospace, including Data Services, Cyber Security, Mixed Reality and Internet of Things.

The ideas include: A novel method of electricity generation for spacecraft using trapped high energy particles, a secure digital passport, optimisation of baggage handling, detachable airplane seats converted into smart electric wheelchairs, VR technology integrated in the cabin, and much more.

How to get involved

Which team deserves to be crowned the Video Competition winner? You decide!

1) Visit the Video Competition page.

2) Watch the videos!

3) Vote for your favourite and enter your email address to receive a unique code.

4) Enter your code to validate your vote.

The team with the highest number of valid votes when voting closes at 11:59 AM (GMT) on Friday 17th May 2019, will be declared the winner.

Which video gets your vote? We want to know! Share your favourite and join the conversation on social media using #flyyourideas.