Member of Team DAELead  from Hong Kong

Secret compartment idea takes top spot in Airbus competition

Image credit: Airbus - P. Pigeyre / Master Films

Students from Hong Kong have won this year’s Airbus Fly Your Ideas competition with their design for a private stowage compartment.

The annual competition, organised by Airbus in partnership with UNESCO, was developed to challenge engineering students from around the world. In their entries, the student teams had to answer one of five challenges identified by Airbus, ranging from improved passenger experience to manufacturing innovations, to provide sustainable solutions for the future of flight.

The global final was held earlier this month in Toulouse, France, where five shortlisted teams – whittled down from 365 entries from nearly 5,500 students – were invited to spend a week at the company’s ProtoSpace facility. Here they were able to visualise, prototype and test their ideas using the company’s state-of-the-art equipment, before presenting to a panel of academic and Airbus aerospace experts.

Team DAELead from the University of Hong Kong won the first prize of the €30,000 for its effective design of a private stowage compartment (PSC) underneath passenger’s feet.

Team Aquarius, from Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, was awarded the runner up prize of €15,000 for its concept that turns a commercial airliner into a tool to stop rapid wildfires.

The judges were impressed by the vision and skill of Team DAELead in seeing such a simple but effective solution for improved passenger experience. The new aircraft cabin design fully utilises the space between the cabin floor and the cargo ceiling to give the passengers their own personal luggage space.

“Our idea actually arose from examining the possibility of empty spaces inside the cabin of an airplane – we realised that spaces between the floor panel and the cargo hold’s ceiling were empty. We connected our ideas back to our home culture in Hong Kong, where we make use of hidden spaces,” says team member Hayden Li.

“Originally we were going to use the same design as our home stowage compartments, which is a simple trapdoor. However, we realised that a hole in the cabin floor, would make it hard for passengers to bend down and reach their belongings. Therefore we implemented a cassette-style opening at roughly 45 degrees, so belongings were easier to reach.

“Outside the ProtoSpace facility we were delighted to find an A350 fuselage cross section that we were free to access. This allowed us to obtain the correct dimensions for our prototype, plus our Airbus mentor provided us with actual seat tracks so that we could model the underfloor area of the aircraft accurately.”

The team plans to use its winnings to delve further into the aviation world.

“Some of us plan to use the money to start developing our flying careers by taking lessons and working towards private pilots licences. Several of us are also thinking about going into postgraduate study, (which this can support). But we’d also like to use some of the money to buy radio controlled model planes to fly in our free time,” Li laughs.

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