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The Air League Innovators Challenge 

The Air League provides a sector leading programme of scholarships and youth outreach, ranging from PPL flying scholarships to work placements with leading UK businesses. Each year we have a great response and select some fantastic candidates to participate in our programmes.

This year we are launching our Innovators Challenge which is a competition for 17-26 year olds who have a passion for aviation and aerospace and a desire to overcome some of the long term challenges facing the sector.

Why Enter?

  • This competition is about you starting to think and behave like an aviation and aerospace professional
  • It provides a chance for you to harness and express your ideas to benefit your career and the industry
  • This is an opportunity to win fantastic prizes – from flying scholarships, to engineering summer school and work experience placements.
  • You will be able to explore an area of interest and develop independent learning skills

There are three challenges to choose from. Three amazing main prizes to be won. Are you the next innovator?

The competition leaflet can be downloaded here.

The Challenges

The Design Challenge – The Air Taxi

Urban Air Mobility is an exciting concept which has captured the imagine of entrepreneurs and engineers for decades. It has only been in recent years that significant progress has been made by very large and some very small companies, a number of which are certainly not traditional aerospace businesses. In this challenge, we’d like you to design your own air taxi. To find out more, download the Competition Pack below.


The Human Factors Challenge

Human factors in aviation is a very broad domain that encompasses many issues such as training, culture, psychology, organisational practice, ergonomics, and ethics amongst many others. The aviation and aerospace industries are in constant evolution and there has been considerable debate about pilotless civil aircraft and manned combat aircraft versus Remotely Piloted Air Systems. In this challenge, we are asking you to examine the factors driving this evolution.  To find out more download the competition pack below.


The Technology Challenge – Carbon Neutral Fuels

Aviation’s impact on climate change has in recent years become highly contentious and the aerospace industry has put a vast amount of technological expertise into tackling the problem. There has been a focus on engines, airframes, systems and materials to reduce aircraft weight and fuel burn. In addition to this, alternative fuel types have been developed with the ultimate aim of a carbon net zero aviation industry.  In this challenge, we’d like you to examine technologies that could deliver carbon neutral fuels to aviation. To find out more, download the competition pack below.

The Prizes

The Design Challenge – 5-day residential engineering scholarship course at Cranfield University sponsored by Aston Martin and British Airways. Taking Place Easter Break 2021.

The Technology Challenge – 1-week work placement with an aerospace company. 

The Human Factors Challenge – Flying-to-Solo Scholarship. A 10-day residential flying scholarship worth over £3,000 taking place in April/May 2021.

Further prizes available to shortlisted candidates including trial flights, simulator sessions and more.

The Format

We love original thinking and want to see new and innovative ideas from you. You will no doubt draw upon many sources of publicly available information, but please do compile a list of references that you have used. Exactly how you present your submission is up to you, but please base it on a minimum of a 2000-word entry and a maximum of 3500. This can be in a word document format with illustrations, or on PowerPoint with accompanying speaker’s notes. A video often provides a useful mechanism for imaginatively communicating ideas and concepts, so do feel free to accompany your entry with original video content and CGIs.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to present their submission in front of a panel of industry experts who are members and partners of the Air League. If you are shortlisted for the event, we will ask you to prepare a presentation and a short executive summary of key points for the panel.

  • Register for the competition by emailing [email protected] to let us know you want to take part in the challenge. State your name and which challenge(s) you want to take part in.
  • All entries must be submitted electronically to [email protected] . If you have built a model, you can submit pictures or video footage of your model for shortlisting purposes.
  • If you are sending through a large file, think about using external websites like WeTransfer.com, Dropbox, a YouTube or Vimeo link to get your entry across to us. If you are having any issues, please contact the team on [email protected] .
  • If you have used specialist software for your project, ensure that it is usable for PC users and doesn’t require us to have any specialist software to open the files. We may ask you to change the format your submission in this instance.
  • Please remember to include the name of your project and all your contact information (name, address, email, DoB) with your submission.
  • If your project is shortlisted for the finals, we will ask you to present your ideas on PowerPoint as well asking you to submit a 1-page executive summary to the panel in advance of the finals.
  • Entries need to be submitted by the 31st August 2020. 

Terms and Conditions

Terms and Conditions

  1. The Technology and Human Factors Challenges are open to all 17-26 year olds. Please note, the Design Challenge is only open to 17-18 year olds due to the age limit imposed on the prize to be won.
  2. International Submissions are allowed. However all international participants should observe point 11 below and ensure they have sufficient funding in place.
  3. This is an individual competition and you are able to apply for each challenge should you meet the age requirements. Do not enter in teams. Please note, you will only be shortlisted for one challenge.
  4. Entries must be received no later than 31st August 2020.
  5. The competition team will shortlist candidates for an online finals presentation to an appointed industry panel which will select the winners.
  6. The panel of Air League experts will assess submissions and its decisions are final.
  7. All entrants will be notified via email by the 1st October 2020 whether they have been shortlisted for the finals.
  8. You should be available to attend the online finals to be held in mid October 2020.
  9. Winners will be selected and notified at the finals.
  10. All prizes/scholarships/placements to take place in 2020 or 2021. 
  11. All activities and accommodation will be provided for the prizes and scholarships. However, travel costs must be individually funded or through third party sponsorship.
  12. Additional criteria must be met in order to be awarded the Flying to Solo scholarship due to health and safety aspects of operating an aircraft safely. Please familiarise yourself with the Air League Terms and Conditions and also additional guidance notes regarding the flying scholarship prize which can be found in the corresponding competition pack.
  13. Copyright to the entries will remain with the entrant, but the entrant licences the Air League to share images and information about your design with organisations taking part, as well as for marketing/publicity purposes.


The Air League would like to thank Jemma Westing for her incredible poster design for this competition. Jemma is an Air League Drone Scholar 2019 but also an award winning book designer and paper engineer. Follow Jemma on Instagram (@jemmawesting).

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