A few years ago when Embry-Riddle Aerospace Engineering student Dynamite Obinna took a flight from Harrisburg, Pa., to Philadelphia, he discovered it took longer to exit the aircraft than the entire duration of the flight. “I looked around at the airplane and noticed there were access doors which could have been used to let passengers exit the plane that weren’t being used,” Obinna said. “It was at that moment that I got the idea to design a passenger boarding bridge that can allow passengers to simultaneously board or deplane through multiple access doors."
A year and 2,100 hours of research later, Obinna’s venture “Aerobridge,” a jetway that provides multiple access points to aircraft, has sparked the interest of airports and was selected as first-place winner of Discovery Day, a poster competition hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research on April 13.
Aerobridge was also the recipient of the People’s Choice Award at the “Launch Your Venture” Entrepreneurship Expo at Embry-Riddle’s College of Business on April 12.
Obinna, who was born in Nigeria, said when he first got the idea he conducted a patent search to determine what systems already existed for multiple aircraft entry and exit. After doing so, he worked on solutions to design a safe and more cost-effective jetway.
Obinna also reached out to College of Business Professor Dr. Massoud Bazargan, who has an extensive background in airline optimization. Bazargan gave Obinna feedback and helped develop the idea.
“We gave him the tools and now he can present his research to potential investors,” Bazargan said. “For an airline that does six or seven flights or more per day, that time savings is significant.”
Graduate students Chenran Ge and Xueqian Chen also contributed to the research, helping Obinna create a simulation model. The end result is an add-on system that cuts boarding and deplaning time nearly in half, which would reduce delays and help passengers get to their connecting gates on time.
“For every minute a plane sits on the ground, airlines lose money,” Obinna said. “Over the course of a year this could save airlines millions of dollars and it would also improve service for passengers.”
Obinna, a junior, is currently securing intellectual property rights for his venture to exploring licensing agreements for the manufacturing of Aerobridge. He said he will use the $250 award money from Discovery Day to develop a scale model prototype to further test various design features.
“I have learned that I don’t have the answers to everything and, as a result, I’ve learned how to network and leverage other people’s strengths,” Obinna said. “I think Embry-Riddle is blessed with a lot of great professors who are willing to show their students what they need to do to succeed.”
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