An air-powered baggage handling concept scooped the €30,000 ($40,000) top prize at the Airbus Fly Your Ideas competition, with a team of students from the University of São Paulo pipping finalists from Malaysia, Australia, Italy and India in the biennial UNESCO-sponsored competition.
Team Levar won with its proposal for a luggage loading and unloading system for aircraft cargo compartments inspired by air hockey tables, which would reduce the workload of airport baggage handlers. Team Levar will be in the EADS Pavilion at the Paris air show on Monday 17 June at 3pm.
The runner-up prize of €15,000 went to Team CLiMA, from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, for its proposal to develop aircraft fuelled by a blend of sustainably produced liquefied biomethane and liquefied natural gas (Bio-LNG).
In addition to the prize money, the students can look forward to welcoming experts from Airbus's innovation cell on to their campus for a week of workshops and training later this year.
In this third edition of the competition, first run in 2008, more than 600 teams from around the world submitted a proposal responding to one of six challenges set out by Airbus for aviation in the 21st century. More than 60 Airbus assessors evaluated the submissions for quality, environmental benefits, and for the level of innovation demonstrated by the team.
Following final judging in Toulouse, the winners were announced at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 14 June.
Charles Champion, leader of the judging panel and Airbus executive vice-president engineering, says: "Team Levar's response to the competition has been fantastic, with a truly innovative proposal.
"They have taken a really broad view of how to improve the aviation industry as a whole, not limiting their ideas to aircraft alone but also considering ground operations, and they are deserving winners.
"According to the students, passengers could collect their luggage 30% faster, start their holidays sooner, and luggage handlers would be put under less physical strain. This kind of idea is fundamental in ensuring the aviation industry continues to drive forward to a more sustainable future."
UNESCO director general Irina Bokova adds: "The diversity of these students' ideas is a huge source of inspiration. Their talent also serves to remind us of the urgent need to train more engineers, to develop the skills and competencies needed to translate ideas into reality and put science into practice.
"This is UNESCO's ambition, and one of the objectives of this partnership with Airbus is to inspire more innovative ideas for our future, in sustainable transportation and even further."