Airbus engineers have painted a picture of an imaginary airliner that embodies the technology and ecological ambitions that passengers in 2050, "or even 2030", could reasonably expect to see.

Airbus says its experts in aircraft materials, aerodynamics, cabins and engines developed this "engineer's dream" to celebrate the company's next 40 years of innovation and to launch its Fly Your Ideas competition, which challenges university students globally to compete to develop ideas for a greener aviation industry.

Also reflecting the spirit of the Farnborough 2010 show's Futures Day on Friday 23 July, Airbus' dream machine embodies ultra-long, slim wings, semi-embedded engines, a U-shaped tail, a light-weight intelligent body - all designed to improve eco-efficiency.

Airbus concept aircraft
 © Airbus

Airbus envisages incorporating green energy sources like fuel cells, solar panels or even passenger body heat to provide energy for powering onboard systems. It also borrows ideas from migrating birds to imagine convoys of these aircraft flying in formation to reduce drag.

Charles Champion, executive vice president of engineering at Airbus, says: "The Airbus Concept Plane represents an engineer's dream about what an aircraft could look like in the long-term future.

"It's not a real aircraft and all the technologies it features, though feasible, are not likely to come together in the same manner. We are stretching our imagination and thinking beyond our usual boundaries.

"With the Airbus Concept Plane, we want to stimulate young people from all over the world to engage with us so that we can continue to share the benefits of air transport, while also looking after the environment."

Some of the engineers' thinking was guided by the results of a recent poll conducted for Airbus, which suggests that the passengers of 2050 will be more environmentally aware, but still insistent on the availability of increased air travel.

Airbus says: "Behind the numbers is a belief that we will live in an increasingly multicultural world, where friends and family will be based further from home." But people will continue to want "to see more of our planet".

Source: Flight Daily News