Cerys Armstrong, aged 8 from Norfolk and Lara Wong (15), from Epsom alongside Martyna Snopek, Design Engineer at easyJet and Frank Stephenson, Designer and Judge. Photo credit : Joe Pepler/PinPep

The winners of easyJet’s ‘Aircraft of the Future’ competition have been announced.

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 winning design of Cerys aged 8 from Norfolk centred on battery power, with solar-powered wings and reusable cups for passengers made of processed banana leaves.

Lara, aged 15 from Surrey looked at using pressurised hydrogen and fuel-cell stacks to generate electricity to power their passenger aircraft of the future. She 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 world-famous automotive transportation designer Frank Stephenson, best known for his iconic car designs for MINI and Fiat 500, as well as recent innovative work designing electric flying vehicles.

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.

easyJet’s First Officer Debbie Thomas, who was on the judging panel, and is an engineer and zero-emission aircraft modeller said, “We had some amazing entries and 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.”

Glenn Llewellyn, Airbus Vice President Zero Emission Aircraft and judge 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.”

Image: Cerys Armstrong, aged 8 from Norfolk and Lara Wong (15), from Epsom alongside Martyna Snopek, Design Engineer at easyJet and Frank Stephenson, Designer and Judge. Photo credit: Joe Pepler/PinPep