Gary Redman, an undergraduate at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, won the international division of NASA's 2008 Fundamental Aeronautics Student Competition with his design called Oionos 43 33. Winners were announced on July 7.
Redman's 24-seat commuter plane saves cargo space by having passengers store their luggage in their seat bases. The flight-attendant service area is accessed through a rear door.
Student designs featured in the annual competition could fuel NASA's flight innovations, said Fay Collier, principal investigator of the agency's Subsonic Fixed Wing Project and contest administrator. Collier hopes students will be inspired in turn to pursue engineering careers and take issues such as fuel efficiency into account.
"We're probably suffering right now in terms of a shortage of engineers in this area," Collier said. "We're on the cusp of an energy crisis. These kinds of things may be able to help us."
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Image by University of Technology, Sydney, Australia/Courtesy NASA