Fish Scales and Banana Skins: The Future of Eco Air Travel?

·2-min read

Two schoolchildren have won a national competition to design the Aircraft Of The Future.

Cerys Armstrong, 8, and Lara Wong, 15, have been named as the winners of easyJet's Aircraft of the Future Competition after they impressed a panel of expert judges with their ideas for zero-emission aircraft.

The youngsters' designs stunned judges with their level of technical expertise - showing ingenuity, attention to detail, and engineering well beyond their years.

Cerys, from Norfolk, won the primary school section with a stylish aircraft utilising battery power - with solar-powered wings and reusable cups for passengers made of processed banana leaves.

Meanwhile, Lara's design featured pressurised hydrogen and fuel-cell stacks to provide electricity to power their aeroplane. The teenager, who won among 12-16-year-olds, also drew inspiration from the animal world and imagined a fuselage design based on fish scales aimed at decreasing drag and improving fuel efficiency.

Among the judges who were wowed by their work was Frank Stephenson - the legendary automotive designer who helped reimagine Mini and Fiat 500 for the modern age.

"We have been blown away by the designs we have seen, children's imaginations are so powerful in fuelling ideas and creativity," he said.

Also on the panel was easyJet First Officer Debbie Thomas, an expert in zero-emission aircraft modelling, Glenn Llewellyn from Airbus, easyJet's Director of Sustainability, Jane Ashton, and Jeff Engler, the CEO of Wright Electric.

Assessing the winners, Debbie shared how they had been selected from a collection of "amazing entries" that had "inspired" her Sustainability Team in their work as they look to reduce the airline's own carbon footprint.

For their prize, Cerys and Lara have received a trip to the easyJet Training Centre in London Gatwick where they will get to experience a full-flight simulator as well as return flights to anywhere the airline flies to for themselves and their immediate family. But perhaps best of all will be a 3-D model and rendering of their design, produced, and signed by Stephenson himself - who also personally congratulated the winners. In addition, Lara has also won a trip to Airbus and a chance to feature on Stephenson's YouTube podcast channel. Several runners up will also be receiving a signed render of their design.

The new contest is the latest effort by airline executives to move towards a carbon-free future. In 2016, they unveiled plans for a revolutionary zero-emissions hydrogen fuel system for aircraft as part of a competition with Cranfield University to develop ideas for the future of sustainable air travel, and they have also partnered with Wright Electric and Airbus, who are developing zero-emission passenger planes powered by hydrogen combustion and hydrogen-electric propulsion.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting