Airlines team up with the general public to ‘fly their ideas’

Since is all about product and service innovation in the airline industry, what better topic is there than how airlines and airports are teaming up with the general public in order to generate ideas for new products and services. Air New Zealand, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Airbus all recently launched co-creation/crowdsourcing/customer-made intitiatives. 

Air New Zealand ‘Aviation Design Academy’
Air New Zealand’s ‘Aviation Design Academy’ is asking the public to add a few finishing touches to the offerings in the airline’s all-new cabin. Participants can sign-up to create a mid-flight snack for travelers in Economy; a signature cocktail for Premium Economy customers; or a stylish eye mask for Business Class passengers, and ANZ will turn the winning ideas into actual products. The winner for each category will also win two free tickets on the inaugural flight of ANZ’s new B777-300 aircraft from Auckland to London in April 2011. The competition is open to people across the world, and submissions have to be in before 26 April 2010. 

KLM ‘Battle of Concepts’, ‘Creative Challenge’, ‘Young Designers Competition’
KLM has been actively asking consumers for their ideas in a number of campaigns. Together with Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the airline initiated a ‘Battle of Concepts’ in November 2009, asking students to come up with creative ideas to enhance the gate experience at Schiphol. The winning concept out of 140 entries was the Tulip Lounge, a 4-person tulip-shaped ‘pod’ with power plugs, wi-fi and mood lighting. In October 2009, KLM and Schiphol launched a similar idea-generating contest, called ‘Creative Challenge’, which challenged young people in the Netherlands to submit their vision for the future of the airline industry. And in May 2009, Air France and KLM jointly held an ‘Young Designers Competition’, which invited students and recent graduates from design schools in Europe to develop new concepts of meal trays and associated tableware (plates, containers, glasses and cutlery). 

Virgin Atlantic ‘V-JAM’
Virgin Atlantic in November 2008 held a ‘V-JAM’, a day-long workshop facilitated by innovation agency NESTA, bringingtogether a diverse group of staff, customers, members of Virgin Atlantic’s independent fan community ‘V Flyer’, as well as suppliers, partners, and social media experts. The agenda for the day was to explore the future of air travel and in particular the role that social media can play. Ideas that were born out of the VJAM program include the airline’s recently launched Flying Club frequent flyer program app on Facebook, and the taxi2 online taxi-sharing service. 

Airbus ‘Fly Your Ideas’
In October 2008, Airbus launched a global competition for students of technical universities, called ‘Fly Your Ideas’. The contest offered EUR30,000 for the best idea that would further reduce the industry’s impact on the environment. 2,350 students from 82 countries submitted proposals and the short-list included a suggestion from a Spanish university for a windowless cabin, which would be more eco-efficient. A Czech proposal would use electric motors to taxi the airplane and Singapore students wanted to integrate photovoltaic cells aboard aircraft to generate electricity. Students from Stanford University in the U.S proposed an ‘inverted V formation’, building on the model of migrating birds, to reduce energy consumption. The winning concept, however, was ‘COz’ from the University of Queensland (Australia) for their proposal on the use of bio-composite cabin materials made from castor plant natural fibres. Airbus said not all entries may at first glance appeal to the traveling public, but they could lead to new ways of thinking about aircraft design and engineering. The next Airbus ‘Fly Your Ideas’ challenge will start in July 2010.


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