'Inspiring' schoolgirls triumph in easyJet 'Aircraft of the Future' contest

The winning entries in the easyJet “Aircraft of the Future” competition were announced at the end of the COP26 conference in Glasgow.

The low-cost airline launched the competition in October and challenges the next generation of engineers to develop their vision for the future of flying with a sustainable source of energy.

Entries included designs inspired by solar powered wings to more unconventional energy sources like hamster wheel and worm powered airplanes. Designs also included a selection of sustainable materials, including seats made from coconuts, one of the thickest and most resilient natural fibers on the market.

Eight-year-old school girls Cerys Armstrong from Norfolk and 15-year-old Lara Wong from Surrey submitted the winning entries, which were judged by a distinguished jury of world-class experts in the fields of flying, sustainability, design and zero-emission technology.

The winning design by Cerys focused on battery power, with solar powered wings and reusable cups for passengers made from processed banana leaves. While Lara’s design looked at the use of pressurized hydrogen and fuel cell stacks to generate electricity to power her future passenger aircraft.

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First Officer Debbie Thomas, of easyJet, who was on the jury who is also an engineer and zero-emission aircraft modeler, said, “We had some amazing submissions and were stunned and incredibly encouraged by the innovation we saw. Cerys and Lara inspired us all with their winning designs – we would be delighted to see them one day as engineers at easyJet and work on the zero-emission aircraft of the future. ”

'Inspiring' schoolgirls triumph in easyJet 'Aircraft of the Future' contest 1

Promoting the development of an emission-free aircraft to decarbonise aviation has long been a focus of easyJet and the airline is working with partners Airbus and Wright Electric to accelerate the development of zero-emission technologies.

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The airline is optimistic that it could begin flying customers in aircraft powered by hydrogen combustion, hydrogen electrics, or a hybrid of both in the mid to late 2030s.

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