Easyjet announces winners of competition for young aircraft engineers

Cerys and Lara with their award winning designs
Cerys and Lara with their award winning designs

Easyjet has announced the winners of a competition aimed to inspire younger generations to get engaged in exciting new zero emission technologies for air travel of the future.

Cerys, aged 8 from Norfolk and Lara, aged 15 from Surrey were crowned winners of the nationwide contest.

The airline launched the competition in October, challenging the next generations of engineers to design their vision for future flying – a passenger plane for travelling across Europe powered by a sustainable energy source.

Entries included designs inspired by solar-powered wings to more unconventional energy sources like hamster-wheel and worm-powered planes! The designs also featured a selection of sustainably sourced materials including seats made from coconuts (coir), one of the thickest and most resistant natural fibres available.

The announcement of the winning designs follows the conclusion of COP26 summit in Glasgow, where the airline announced that it has joined Race to Zero, a global UN-backed campaign to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.

Cerys’ winning design centred on battery power, with solar-powered wings and reusable cups for passengers made of processed banana leaves. Whilst Lara’s design looked at using pressurised hydrogen and fuel-cell stacks to generate electricity to power their passenger aircraft of the future.

Lara’s aeroplane also took inspiration from the animal kingdom with material replicating fish scales for the plane’s fuselage, intended to decrease drag for the plane to improve fuel-efficiency.

All design entries were judged by an esteemed panel of world-class experts in flying, sustainability, design and zero emission technology.

EasyJet pilot and zero emission aircraft modeller Debbie Thomas was joined on the panel by easyJet’s Director of Sustainability, Jane Ashton; zero emission aircraft expert Glenn Llewellyn from Airbus; Jeff Engler, CEO of Wright Electric, which is developing a zero-emission short-haul plane; and famous automotive transportation designer Frank Stephenson, best known for his iconic car designs for MINI and the Fiat 500, as well as recent innovative work designing electric flying vehicles.

Lara’s design features pressurised hydrogen and fuel-cell stacks to power the aircraft

The panel judged all the entries on the quality of the design, interpretation of the theme, creativity, innovation, practicality, and most of all, how the design has considered sustainability and the environment.

According to research carried out for the competition, 95% of children believe that learning about subjects like science and technology for combatting climate change is important and a further 90% of children think that having the chance to be an inventor or designer who invented things to combat climate change would be one of the most worthwhile jobs in the world.

EasyJet first officer Debbie Thomas, who was on the judging panel, and is an engineer and zero-emission aircraft modeller said: “We were stunned and incredibly encouraged by the innovation we saw. Cerys and Lara have inspired us all with their winning designs – we’d love to see them join easyJet as engineers one day, working on zero-emission aircraft of the future.”

Cerys’ design includes solar-powered wings

Glenn Llewellyn, Airbus vice president Zero Emission Aircraft said: “There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing the next generation’s enthusiasm for more sustainable flight. I’m thoroughly impressed by the innovative ideas – from fish scales to increase laminar flow to “bow” wings powered by hydrogen fuel cells – put forth by these future aeronautical engineers. It demonstrates curiosity, creativity and a maturity in aeronautical knowledge that is wise beyond their years.”

Cerys and Lara have received a host of money can’t buy prizes in the form of a 3-D model and rendering of their design, produced and signed by Frank Stephenson as well as an experience in an easyJet full-flight simulator and return flights to anywhere on the airline’s network for the winner’s immediate family.

Additionally, Lara, the winner of the secondary school-age category, has also won a behind the scenes trip to Airbus. The runners up will also be receiving a signed computer rendering of their design.

Championing the development of a zero-emission aircraft to de-carbonise aviation has long been a focus for easyJet and the airline is working with its partners Airbus and Wright Electric to accelerate the development of zero-emission technologies. The airline says it is optimistic that it could begin flying customers on planes powered by hydrogen-combustion, hydrogen-electric or a hybrid of both by the mid to late-2030s.







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