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Corentin Lefloch, engineering student, receives the first prize at the USAIRE STUDENT AWARDS for his work on aviation’s future

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Corentin Lefloch, a 3rd-year student, and Florian Gandon, a student at Sciences Po Paris, were chosen from among more than a hundred students from around the world to be awarded the 1st USAIRE prize in Paris last November. The topic, “Be green, Keep flying”, invited students to think about a set of reforms that could enable the aviation industry to enact its necessary green transition.

paris air show corentin
Photo : Paris Air Show

“We sought to take air transport as a whole into consideration and to take stock of this complex industry with its incredibly wide range of players to do research on the current outlook for air transport in order to propose an implementable solution in response to the challenges of climate change,” Corentin said.

Their report, titled “Innovating and Renovating: a Flight Plan for a Sustainable Aviation Industry”, presents a technological analysis of the sector and develops proposals for innovative economic, institutional and legal reforms to deal with our climate challenges from a new perspective.

They discuss an overhaul of the aviation sector’s organization, focusing on the pillars of sustainable technological innovation, international cooperation and the fair distribution of intellectual property and economic and social benefits throughout the value chain.

International reform

They believe that the industry needs to step up its efforts on new technologies, but also on its institutions in order to meet the commitments taken by the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) aimed at reducing its CO2 emissions by half of its 2005 levels by 2050. Improving aircraft structures and engines, and the use of alternative drop-in fuels, will not be enough. The students suggest creating a “Conseil International pour une Aviation Durable” (International Sustainable Aviation Council) to set guidelines for airlines worldwide, or the introduction of “transition bonds”, systems used to finance innovative projects with low CO2 emissions, just as important for establishing sustainable aviation.

As a conclusion to their manifesto, they state that the success of future air transport cannot be summed up in a single technological solution, and international institutions will have to be reinvented to ensure the emergence and development of fully sustainable aviation.

“I am convinced that increasing our collective awareness of the stakes of climate change is a great opportunity for us to rethink the world of tomorrow. Aviation has a lot of work to do to integrate environmental issues and to reinvent itself. I would like to be a player in these changes and to be able to offer solutions,” Corentin explained.

A clear path forward

Corentin Lefloch has always had a passion for aviation. He came to ISAE-SUPAERO after his studies at a scientific prep school. He then did a double degree with Sciences Po Paris for a Master’s in Finance and Strategy. He is convinced that there is a need to combine this knowledge with engineering to develop a fine understanding of the aviation industry in order to play an active role in its future development. He is currently in his last year of the engineering program with a specialization in data-driven decision-making sciences.

He met Floriant Gandon while he was preparing his double degree at Sciences Po Paris. Florian is a glider pilot and an aviation enthusiast who is convinced that finance and public affairs are two pillars for this industry, which is both strategic and capital-intensive. After his Master’s Degree, and after his experience working at Airbus and other companies, he became an intern in Private Equity analysis at Ace Management, a firm that manages the aviation industry’s billion-euro stimulus fund financed by Airbus, Safran, Dassault Aviation, Thales, Tikehau Capital and the French government.

This pair, hailed by the USAIRE jury, quickly committed themselves to developing their own ideas on the future of air transport and its ecological transition, “Be green, Keep flying”, in the middle of this health crisis, at a time when most aircraft were grounded and support for the sector was conditioned upon environmental commitments.

For 15 years, the USAIRE association has organized the USAIRE Student Awards, an international competition recognized by professionals in the sector and sponsored by aviation leaders such as Rolls-Royce, Boeing and Airbus.

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