Fly Your Ideas Challenge: Internet of Things

How can the Internet of Things revolutionise the passenger experience and improve collaboration in the aerospace industry?

The Internet of Things – IoT – helps Airbus to gather and process the right data at the right time to improve processes and create future products and services for our customers and their passengers. IoT makes collecting and managing large amounts of big data possible and opens up new analytics and Artificial Intelligence-based microservices.

“The Internet of Things is a key enabler for digital transformation in all functional areas,” says challenge sponsor Dr. Anes Hodzic, head of IoT at the Airbus Digital Transformation Office. “Huge amounts of data from large numbers of connected devices require new ways of ingesting, modelling and securing that data. Those devices have to interact with each other to make the data useful for the end user. With the right level of creativity to shape how that happens, we can change how we work and interact together.”

The huge increase in connectivity that Hodzic references has led to demand for scalable data collection and processing capability. Cost-effective data transmission, low-cost data processing and storage are all key enablers for real-time IoT applications.

Airbus is looking for Fly Your Ideas students to think about IoT in terms of technologies or applications that could improve the passenger experience of air travel. These could include new data-driven interaction between aircraft, crew and passengers; improvement of the journey experience from home to destination; or personalisation of cabin environments based on mobile data.

Teams should consider IoT solutions which change how employees, partners, subcontractors and customers in the aerospace industry collaborate. Examples include training or information exchange for shop floor technicians and service employees; tracking of parts in the supply chain; or real-time interaction with suppliers and customers.

“I don’t claim to have the smartest people already on board at Airbus when it comes to IoT,” says Hodzic with a smile. “Through Fly Your Ideas I’m interested in seizing the creativity and imagination of the ’digital native’ generation that has grown up with social media and digitalisation.”

So what is his advice to students thinking of tackling the challenge? “Think big but start small. Addressing the complex issues our industry faces starts with simple solutions with user in mind and experience isn’t necessarily an asset!”

Fly Your Ideas: Electrification Challenge

Electrification has long been seen as the key to flying longer, further and cleaner but how can this technology be embedded in the Airbus products of the future?  “This is a major issue, a chance to preserve our planet,” says Valery Gineste, this challenge’s main sponsor.

The possible benefits of Electrification are well known – particularly the potential to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of air travel by dramatically reducing emissions. Less familiar is the recent progress in crucial technologies that have reduced the energy and power densities, and recurring costs of electric propulsion.

These are exciting trends but further improvements in the range and mission capabilities of electric vehicles are needed. Airbus is investing in research dedicated to developing the technology and expertise needed. Students can apply their creativity and innovative approaches to electric flying involving commercial aircraft, drones, helicopters or spacecraft.

“In the aerospace industry we love challenges and Electrification could make a huge difference to all our products and other forms of urban travel too,” says Valery. “This is a superb opportunity for Airbus to show what we can achieve together and ensure good air quality for all.”

You could work with Airbus to discover new solutions to reduce the weight of the aircraft energy storage and generation systems. Or maybe devise improved technologies and systems combinations, architectures, or energy systems integration to enable better performance through innovative embedded electrical energy systems.

Teams might also focus on the recharging, diagnosis and potential grid interfaces, the harvesting of energy for redistribution, or even solutions for the second life of energy storage systems.

“My advice to entrants is simple,” concludes Valery. “The stakes are high so be bold, be innovative and be part of the generation that finds a solution. This challenge is for dreamers and game changers who want to shape the world of tomorrow.”

How diversity stimulates innovation

Diversity is integral to the Airbus identity, with over 20 languages spoken and more than 130 nationalities represented. A diverse team brings a diverse collection of ideas, increasing creativity and performance. All the winning teams since Fly Your Ideas launched in 2008 have mixed gender, nationality or discipline, proving that diversity stimulates innovation. In this article, we highlight some diverse teams from previous years of the competition to inspire you to form your own diverse teams.

Team MultiFun

Our 2015 winners are shining examples of diversity. The team of engineering postgraduates representing India, the UK, the USA and the Netherlands, brought their idea to life despite working in four countries on three continents. The team met together for the first time at the Fly Your Ideas final in Hamburg.

Their prize-winning idea combines energy harvesting and energy storage into weight neutral structural panels with the intent of gathering energy from structural deflections in flight, to replace or supplement energy from auxiliary power units and engine bleed.

Team Sky Vision

These 2017 finalists from the University of Surrey, UK, have mixed gender, nationality and discipline. The team consist of three undergraduate students – two male, and one female – of Iraqi, British and Cypriot nationalities.

Their idea turns a commercial airliner into an ‘Earth Observation Device’ by installing equipment into the fuselage of the aircraft to monitor ground activity during flight. An alternative to satellite imagery, it opens up new opportunities in areas such as environmental analysis and urban planning.

Team Bolleboos

Finalists in our 2015 competition, the all-female team of Engineering students from Spain, Italy and the Netherlands represented City University London, UK.

Their idea is a wireless Power Transfer to improve taxiing for more efficient ground operations using the principle of inductive power transfer by which aircraft are electrically charged while running on the taxiway. The system consists of a source system embedded on the ground and pick-up system on the aircraft.

Fly Your Ideas is open to students of all genders, nationalities and disciplines. We hope this article has inspired you to create your own diverse teams and develop creative solutions to one of the six challenges. Round 1 is now open for submissions – don’t miss out!

Fly Your Ideas Challenge: Be bold and have fun with Mixed Reality

Mixed Reality (Augmented and Virtual Reality) mass-market technologies are rapidly changing the way companies such as Airbus imagine their industrial operations and develop future services. How will the aerospace industry put them to work?

Mixed Reality (MR) technologies have long been used to support pilots during certain flight phases, to improve the aircraft design process and to enable interaction with 3D digital models before production. Now Airbus wants to harness widely available products to develop exciting new solutions.

“At Airbus we are convinced MR will massively transform both our personal and professional lives,” says challenge sponsor François Favre. “This technology is right at the core of our digital transformation programme.” One example is aircraft marketing. Today marketing still involves lots of paper documentation, costly mock-ups and site visits. A Mixed Reality interface could provide remote, flexible and interactive support for customers as they make vital decisions about product design and configuration.

Indeed, Mixed Reality apps are already available off the shelf, run on standard smartphones and have the potential to speed up the development of specialist products and services for the entire aerospace industry. Fly Your Ideas student teams are encouraged to demonstrate the potential of MR apps for the aerospace industry. This could involve defining user stories, producing a working prototype and highlighting the operational benefits and limitations of their idea.

“We’re already seeing an amazing variety of potential MR applications emerging across all Airbus divisions and business areas,” François adds. “My message for Fly Your Ideas applicants interested in the subject would be, ‘join the party, be bold and have fun!’”

Fly Your Ideas: Cyber Security Challenge

How can Airbus help the airline industry to securely and seamlessly authenticate travellers while minimising the impact on passengers, air security and airline operations?

Checking and authenticating passenger identity is a major concern for airborne public transportation. It is an essential part of the customs process as well as airport security, luggage management and aircraft safety. Checking and authentication are needed to sell plane tickets and services such as lounge access, priority boarding and inflight entertainment services – or simply so the cabin crew can ensure every passenger is onboard and in the right seat.

These very different processes rely on authentication using passports, ID cards, loyalty cards or credit cards and involve multiple checks. Cumulatively, this impacts passenger journey quality and uses valuable airline, airport and customs resources.

Fly Your Ideas students have an opportunity to refresh this cumbersome, time-consuming process. Air transportation needs simple, fast and secure authentication from ticket purchase to arrival at the traveller’s final destination.

New solutions could be a specific token, a smartphone app, an online service – or something else. “Fly Your Ideas is a unique opportunity for us at Airbus Security,” says Airbus head of security and challenge sponsor Dr Pascal Andrei. “Behind the buzzword, cybersecurity is a global matter that touches everyone in their personal and professional lives. The contest will enable us to benefit from the daring ideas of ingenious minds.”

Finally, what advice would Pascal have for students interested in this challenge? “Don’t limit yourself because you are not studying cyber-security, nor a security expert,” he says. “Think of what you would appreciate as a traveller, then think about the cyber-security implications.”

Fly Your Ideas: Data Services Challenge

Airbus generates a vast amount of data from various platforms and, as this challenge’s main sponsor Jean-Michel Darroy says, “Data is the new oil!”

Aircraft, helicopters, drones and satellites all produce information that could be the key to innovative new applications and services. These as yet undiscovered areas could revolutionise the aerospace industry, transform the passenger experience, or have a radical positive impact on domains such as security, the environment, smart cities and more. “Data is one of the most exciting domains of the modern world,” says Jean-Michel. “With Data Services, you can touch any Airbus product you choose and leverage the related data to an incredible variety of applications. There’s no limit to the participants’ creativity.”

Fly Your Ideas teams tackling the Data Services Challenge can look to start a traditional platform business, devise a means to improve production processes or extend a product life cycle. This might mean leveraging cloud computing power and machine learning techniques, or involve mixing a range of internal and external data to unleash some hidden potential.

The starting point will be thinking about new applications or services built on Airbus data from different sources. Proposals could be about industrial processes and the quality of workers’ lives, but they could also offer value-added services for Airbus’ customers, possibly using satellite or drone technology, or radical new solutions for travellers. As long as the idea uses data and aims to have a positive impact it will be considered.

“I got involved in Fly Your Ideas because I love the stimulating environment, this challenge is ‘Airbus wide’, and the rich cultural diversity of a global event is always a pleasure to work with,” concludes Jean-Michel. “My advice to applicants at this stage is to dream big, but also be very concrete in what you propose. Start prototyping as early as possible and always keep your ultimate user or customer in mind.”

Fly Your Ideas Challenge: Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence – AI – combines the raw computing power of machines with cognitive powers to learn, reason and perform tasks. Refining its application in aerospace to identify opportunities or entirely new business models is a 2019 Fly Your Ideas challenge.

“I’m curious to see what comes out of this,” says the AI challenge’s main sponsor Adam Bonnifield, head of Artificial Intelligence at Airbus. “We’re looking for a fresh idea that would make experienced people in the industry sit up and say ‘wow!’”

Why did Adam get involved? “Having spent some time in academia, Fly Your Ideas is a chance for me to reconnect with the student community and its out-of-the-box thinking,” he answers. “And AI is so much fun. It combines the hardest technical problems with pure creativity. It’s exciting to get in on the ground floor, as there simply aren’t many experts around.”

AI opportunities at Airbus are as diverse as the technology itself. Applications range from smart inventory management and helping astronauts onboard the International Space System to real-time pilot support. AI could detect quality issues on the shopfloor, or use Airbus’ imagery assets to design entirely new lines of business and services. It is already helping flight crews to make better decisions, optimising the global supply chain, and helping detect failure points in the manufacturing process.

Fly Your Ideas candidates could focus on AI solutions that support and extend Airbus’ existing expertise and open up new customer opportunities. This challenge is designed to empower students to assess the feasibility of their idea and prove its value to Airbus, and then prototype and build the concept into a working application.

Global student interest in digital aerospace competition soars

Airbus Fly Your Ideas digital platform is open for ideas. #flyyourideas

Toulouse, 10 September 2018 – With over 2,000 already registered, students can now access to the purpose-built digital competition platform under in order to upload their idea in Round 1 of the competition.

Airbus launched the sixth Fly Your Ideas competition in June 2018 and the next generation of innovators can now submit their proposals tackling one of the six challenges set out by Airbus (Electrification, Data Services, Cyber Security, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality). Students need to fill an online questionnaire about their idea, highlighting the technology behind it, market analysis, originality, added value and potential obstacles. In order to visualize the idea, the teams must also submit a simple sketch.

The Round 1 submission phase ends on 16 November 2018 and is followed by an online assessment where a team of Airbus specialists recruited from across the business will review and evaluate all submitted ideas. The live final of Fly Your Ideas will be held in 2019, where students will have the opportunity to showcase their ideas to an audience of industry experts. Fly Your Ideas is a global competition for universities and students from all over the world to innovate for the future of aerospace, including Commercial, Defence & Space and Helicopters. Airbus is seeking ideas that could change aerospace in the decades to come and create a safer, cleaner and better-connected world. The competition is an opportunity for students to build valuable employment skills including teamwork, project management and presentation skills and to apply their classroom learning to real-world challenges. As well as joining Airbus on site to further develop their ideas, up to six finalist teams will compete to share a prize fund of € 45,000 and the chance to take their idea forward within the industry.

Since the competition launched in 2008, over 20,000 students from more than 650 universities in over 100 countries have been involved. Since 2012, the competition has been supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO underlines the value of this partnership. “Fly Your Ideas is an inspirational endeavour for students around the world and UNESCO is proud to be a part of this initiative. The new challenges will allow students to think outside the box and come up with sustainable solutions for global problems beyond aerospace – exactly what the world needs from our future generations!”

To find more about Airbus Fly your Ideas, visit our website which now has additional features such as a live social media wall featuring the latest Fly Your Ideas news and updates as well as new “People and Jobs” and “Future of Flight” pages focusing on digitally oriented profiles and careers as well as Innovation at Airbus. Additionally join the Facebook community at