Two girls aged 8 and 15 win easyJet’s ‘Aircraft of the Future’ competition

Easyjet challenged the next generations of engineers in the UK to design their vision for future flying: aircraft for travel across Europe, powered by a renewable energy source. And the ideas that came in were eye-openers.

They include unconventional power sources such as hamster wheels and worms, and chairs made from coconuts, one of the thickest and most resistant natural fibers available.

But it was Cerys, aged eight, from Norfolk, and Lara, aged 15, from Surrey, who were crowned winners of easyJet’s Aircraft of the Future competition for ‘inspiring’ designs.

Cerys Armstrong (left), eight years old, from Norfolk, and Lara Wong (right), 15 years old, from Epsom, unveil their zero-emission passenger aircraft designs, as they are named as the winners of the easyJet Aircraft of the Future competition at Luton Airport

Cerys’ winning design was battery-powered, with solar-powered wings and reusable passenger cups made from processed banana leaves.

Lara’s design, meanwhile, looked at using pressurized hydrogen and fuel cell stacks to generate electricity to power her passenger plane of the future.

Lara’s plane also took inspiration from the animal kingdom, with material that replicated fish scales for the plane’s fuselage, intended to reduce the drag of the plane to improve fuel efficiency.

Cerys' winning design focuses on battery power, with solar-powered wings and reusable passenger cups made from processed banana leaves

Cerys’ winning design focuses on battery power, with solar-powered wings and reusable passenger cups made from processed banana leaves

The panel judged all entries on 'the quality of the design, interpretation of the theme, creativity, innovation, usability and most importantly, how the design has taken sustainability and the environment into account'

The panel judged all entries on ‘the quality of the design, interpretation of the theme, creativity, innovation, usability and most importantly, how the design has taken sustainability and the environment into account’

All design submissions were judged by ‘an esteemed panel of world-class experts in flight, sustainability, design and zero-emission technology’.

EasyJet pilot and zero-emission aircraft modeler Debbie Thomas was joined on the panel by easyJet’s Director of Sustainability, Jane Ashton; zero-emission aircraft expert Glenn Llewellyn of Airbus; Jeff Engler, CEO of Wright Electric, which is developing a zero-emission short-haul aircraft; and car transport 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 jury judged all entries on ‘the quality of the design, the interpretation of the theme, creativity, innovation, usability and, above all, how sustainability and the environment have been taken into account in the design’.

EasyJet First Officer and Judge Debbie Thomas, an engineer and zero-emission aircraft modeler, said: “We had some great entries and were amazed and incredibly encouraged by the innovation we saw. Cerys and Lara have all inspired us with their winning designs – we’d love to see them join easyJet one day as engineers, working on zero-emission aircraft of the future.”

Lara's design looked at using pressurized hydrogen and fuel cell stacks to generate electricity to power her passenger plane of the future

Lara’s design looked at using pressurized hydrogen and fuel cell stacks to generate electricity to power her passenger plane of the future

Lara's aircraft also took inspiration from the animal kingdom, with material that replicates fish scales for the aircraft's fuselage, intended to reduce drag on the aircraft to improve fuel efficiency.

Lara’s aircraft also took inspiration from the animal kingdom, with material that replicates fish scales for the aircraft’s fuselage, intended to reduce drag on the aircraft to improve fuel efficiency.

Frank Stephenson, designer and judge, said: ‘We have been stunned by the designs we have seen. Children’s imagination is so powerful in nurturing ideas and creativity. Congratulations to Cerys and Lara!’

Glenn Llewellyn, Airbus Vice President Zero Emission Aircraft and Judge, said: “There is nothing more inspiring than seeing the next generation’s enthusiasm for more sustainable flights! I am deeply 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 aerospace engineers. It shows curiosity, creativity and a maturity in aviation knowledge that is beyond their age.’

Jeff Engler, Wright Electric CEO and judge, said, “It was incredibly inspiring to see how creative kids were designing their sustainable aircraft of the future. We were delighted to see the inventiveness and level of detail of some of the designs.”

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

Cerys is pictured here showing her design to Frank Stephenson, designer and competition judge.  Cerys and Lara have received a host of cash can't-buy awards in the form of a 3D model and rendering of their design, produced and signed by Frank, as well as an easyJet flight simulator experience

Cerys is pictured here showing her design to Frank Stephenson, designer and competition judge. Cerys and Lara have received a host of cash can’t-buy awards in the form of a 3D model and rendering of their design, produced and signed by Frank, as well as an easyJet flight simulator experience

Cerys and Lara alongside Martyna Snopek, Design Engineer at easyJet and Frank Stephenson

Cerys and Lara alongside Martyna Snopek, Design Engineer at easyJet and Frank Stephenson

In addition, Lara, the winner of the high school age category, won a behind-the-scenes look at Airbus and a chance to appear on Frank Stephenson’s YouTube podcast channel to discuss their design. The runners-up will also receive a signed reproduction of their design.

The airline’s survey of 2,000 British children and adults found that more than four in five (83 per cent) British children would like to embark on a career working to find solutions to combat climate change through science or technology. parents support their children in this.

As many as 95 percent of kids believe it’s important to learn about topics like science and technology to fight climate change and another 90 percent of kids think the opportunity to be an inventor or designer has things invented to fight climate change, be one of the most amazing jobs in the world.

easyjet said: ‘Promoting the development of a zero-emission aircraft to decarbonise aviation has long been a focus of easyJet and the airline is working with its partners Airbus and Wright Electric to accelerate the development of zero-emission technologies. The airline is optimistic that by the mid-1920s to late 1920s it will be able to fly customers on aircraft powered by hydrogen combustion, hydrogen-electric, or a hybrid of both.”

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