Flight Challenge

A quiet week so far, get asking more questions folks!



Cardiff University 2005-2008 (Rhys) / Cambridge University (David) /Trinity College Dublin (Michael)


Bachelor’s Degree (Rhys), PhD (David), PhD (Michael)

Work History:

Airbus Group (Rhys), Oxford University (David), University of Bath (Michael)

Current Job:



Airbus Group (Rhys), Oxford University (David), University of Bath (Michael)

My work and the challenge

Our work is involved in research and development of the processes required to design and manufacture future aircraft.

If I won the £10,000,000 I'd spend it on...

… developing an education programme in less developed countries in order to raise awareness and understanding of these and other grand challenges that the world faces today – many of these challenges would be easier to solve if there was better awareness and understanding of them.

My Interview

Other stuff


We are a group of scientists, engineers and experts who work in the aerospace industry. We want to draw attention to the flight challenge within the 2014 Longitude Prize. The team is comprised of:

  1. Rhys Phillips – Research Engineer for Airbus Group Innovations
    Rhys works in a team that is designing lightning strike protection for the next generation of composite aircraft. These future planes are being made out of a lighter material that will reduce fuel consumption leading to both cost and environmental savings. Rhys took part in I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here in 2011 (his profile is here). He is a volunteer for the IET, a STEM Ambassador, the co-founder of Cardiff Science Festival, a jazz trumpeter, caller of ceilidhs and presents three weekly shows on Radio Cardiff. Find out more about him here.
  2. David Howey – Associate Professor in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford
    David is an Associate Professor in Engineering Science and a Tutorial Fellow at St Hilda’s College Oxford. He leads a research team that works mainly on battery energy storage systems for electric and hybrid vehicles and grid power storage. He is a member of IET and IEEE, was previously a trustee of Engineers Without Borders UK, and occasionally plays the piano. Find out more about him here.
  3. Michael Carley – Senior Lecturer at Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath
    Michael is a senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Bath, and also a member of the Aerospace Engineering Research Centre. His main research interest is aeroacoustics, the study of noise from aircraft. Find out more about him here.

My challenge

The flight challenge boils down to a simple sounding question – how can we fly without damaging the environment? The answer is of course, much less simple. It is estimated that a return flight from the UK to mainland America in a traditional aluminium aircraft emits the same amount of carbon into the atmosphere as burning 700 oak trees. There are three main ways in which we can reduce environmental damage from flight:

  1. Create more fuel efficient engines
  2. Make more aerodynamic aircraft (reduce drag)
  3. Reduce the weight of aircraft

All three of these ideas are being worked on by aircraft manufacturers already. But how do we refine the ideas enough to create zero environmental damage?

Which challenge would you vote for if not your own

Water – how can we ensure everyone has access to safe and clean water? This is probably one of, if not the biggest problem that the world faces. Some of the other challenges would have a lesser impact if this challenge was solved.

Longitude Prize Guide from the BBC - click the image