Got an Idea? Fly it with Airbus

Let’s start with some figures. 11,000 students representing more than 100 countries have submitted 600 ideas to Airbus so far! The ‘Fly Your Ideas’ competition is a classic example of open innovation using which Airbus aims to unearth better ‘ways to fly’.

The competition was launched in 2008 and has grown from strength to strength. In the inaugural year, the initiative saw participation from 2350 students. In 2013, the competition received endorsement from UNESCO and the winning team from Brazil (University of São Paulo) received more than 100,000 public votes.

Here is a sneak preview of the competition:

Round 1: Students around the world team up (team size: 3-5). They have the flexibility to form their teams with friends from the same campus or join / invite peers from any part of the world. Post registration, the teams submit their ideas responding to the stated challenges. Ideas could be mapped to both a single challenge / multiple challenges. The submitted idea needs to furnish details in terms of key features, the envisaged benefits and how it could be implemented.
Round 2: The selected ideas and the corresponding teams are assigned with an Airbus mentor and an expert from the organisation who would support the team to translate the idea into a project. At this stage the teams need to submit a report (up to 5000 words in English). The report needs to be supplemented with a short video.
Round 3: 5 teams move to the final round and are required to create detailed presentations which need to be presented ‘LIVE’ in front of a panel comprising experts from Airbus and the industry.

The competition is open to Bachelors, Masters or PhD level students only.

Wondering about the quality of solutions proposed by students. Take a look and your most likely reaction would be ‘WOW’.


Winners: Team Levar from the University of São Paulo. The idea, inspired by air hockey tables and propelled by the air cushion concept, proposed a luggage loading and unloading system that would reduce the workload of airport baggage handlers.

Runners up: Representing Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Team Clima proposed the development of an aircraft that would be fuelled by a blend of sustainably produced liquefied biomethane and liquefied natural gas (Bio-LNG).

One of the finalists was Team AVAS from SRM University, Chennai. The team comprising 3 aerospace engineering students proposed an idea to reduce the noise of propulsion by modifying the shape of the shape of the jet exhaust and using intelligent materials (shape memory alloys). Congratulations! You made us proud!

The ‘Fly Your Ideas 2015’ edition was launched earlier in the year and the six challenges against which students would have to submit their ideas are Energy, Efficiency, Affordable Growth, Traffic Growth, Passenger Experience and Community Friendliness. The themes were chosen keeping in mind the factors that would impact the aviation industry in the future, namely, growth, efficiency and people.

So how does Airbus benefit out of the programme? The press note for the current edition of the competition states “Airbus people also benefit from this experience – the inter-generational exchange is enriching for all and supports the open mind-set and innovative culture, which defines the way Airbus works.”

While the debate around whether ‘Open Innovation’ works or not would continue, this example reinstates that if done properly, organisations are likely to benefit from such endeavours.

To know more, please visit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s