Airbus has narrowed the competition down to five finalists in its fifth Fly Your Ideas challenge, the company said. The five teams represent nine nationalities and eight universities across Africa, Europe and Asia-Pacific. In partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Airbus garnered more than 350 entries in the biennial competition.
Next steps for the finalists include traveling to Toulouse, France, to spend a week at the Airbus ProtoSpace facility. There, teams are to prototype, test and visualize their ideas — getting to use Airbus equipment and personal guidance. When the week is over, the students are to present their projects, complete with prototype, in front of Airbus experts and personalities from aerospace and academic fields. First prize is some $31,800, while the second-place team would receive half that amount. Winners are to be announced during a live event May 17.
Here are Airbus’ descriptions of the top five ideas:
A radical concept that turns a commercial airliner into an "Earth Observation Device" by installing equipment into the belly of the aircraft to monitor ground activity during flight. An alternative to satellite imagery, it opens up new opportunities such as ecology analysis and urban planning.
An airport taxiing system that uses sensors and algorithms for automated ground traffic control, both in the tower and on the aircraft, to significantly improve aircraft traffic at airports and thus reduce emissions.
A revolutionary boarding system that uses a real-time mobile app to assign boarding status to passengers according to their luggage size. The "Compact Luggage Strategy" addresses current storage issues in over-head compartments by distributing passengers across the aircraft according to the size of their baggage.
A clever aircraft cabin design that locates a private stowage compartment underneath passengers' feet, using the space between the cabin floor and the cargo ceiling.
A firefighting solution that incorporates modular systems using pressurized fire retardant containers fixed to fast-loadable pallets for a network of Airbus A400M aircraft, to create a system of aerial firefighting platforms that can be used for rapid wildfire suppression.