"The Elon Musk of Aviation": Meet Sarah Qureshi, Inventor of the World's First Green Aircraft Engine

Muzamil Amar

Head of Content at a digital agency in Pakistan, content-marketing expert, scriptwriter

Head of Content at a digital agency in Pakistan, content-marketing expert, scriptwriter

In a world overshadowed by environmental concerns and the looming threat of industries' carbon footprints, one woman dares to envision a different future. Meet Sarah Qureshi, an innovator, entrepreneur, and visionary revolutionizing the aviation industry. As the CEO of Aero Engine Craft, Pakistan's first private company focused on environmentally friendly aircraft engines, Sarah is spearheading the creation of an eco-friendly era that once seemed impossible.

What sets Sarah's journey apart is the remarkable influence of her father, igniting her passion and shaping her destiny. Together, they embarked on countless adventures, fueling Sarah's imagination and nurturing her thirst for innovation.

In this article, you will discover how one woman's unwavering spirit and her father's guidance transformed her into the "Elon Musk of Aviation." Get ready to be inspired!

Why Sarah Qureshi became an innovator? 

Sarah Qureshi's journey as an innovator in the aviation industry was deeply influenced by her childhood and the remarkable achievements of her parents. Born into a family of extraordinary intellect, her father, a noteworthy physicist, and her mother holding a Ph.D. in quantum chemistry instilled in her a curiosity and a passion for scientific exploration from an early age. 

The bond between Sarah Qureshi and her father, Masood Latif Qureshi, was not only rooted in their shared passion for science but also forged through the special moments they spent together. As a child, Sarah often found herself by her father's side, immersed in machines and engineering. 

Masood Latif Qureshi, a respected figure in the aviation industry, worked tirelessly on aircraft and cutting-edge technologies. He possessed an unparalleled depth of knowledge and expertise, which he eagerly shared with his curious and attentive daughter. From a young age, Sarah was captivated by the intricate workings of airplanes, and her father became her greatest teacher and mentor. 

Photo: Sarah Qureshi Facebook

In their humble workshop, father and daughter embarked on countless projects. Together, they tinkered with engines, dissected components, and pieced together intricate mechanisms. These shared moments not only strengthened their bond but also fueled Sarah's growing passion for engineering and aircraft. 

Under her father's guidance, Sarah's understanding of aviation and her technical skills grew exponentially. She marveled at the complexity of flight systems, learning the nuances of aerodynamics and propulsion. It was during these hours spent side by side that Sarah's dreams of transforming the aviation industry began to take shape. 

Driven by their shared vision, Sarah and her father took a bold leap and launched their own company, united by a mission to create a greener and more sustainable aviation era. With Sarah's inventive ideas and her father's wealth of experience, they were a formidable team, ready to revolutionize the industry they held so dear. 

The collaborative efforts of Sarah and her father soon bore fruit. They harnessed their collective knowledge and expertise to develop groundbreaking technologies that minimize environmental impact while maximizing efficiency.

The contrail-free aero-engines they are working on have the chance to become the epitome of sustainable air travel, a testament to the years of hard work and the emotional connection that has fueled their journey.

Photo: Sarah Qureshi Facebook

Sarah Qureshi: The Elon Musk of Aviation 

Qureshi's contrail-free aero-engines is not just a mere technological advancement; it represents a paradigm shift in how we approach air travel. Her creation challenges the status quo and demonstrates that sustainability and progress can go hand in hand. 

With her contrail-free aero-engines, Qureshi has effectively addressed one of the most pressing concerns of the aviation industry.

Contrails, those white lines behind airplanes, currently cover about 0.2% of the Earth's surface, and this is expected to increase to 0.5% by 2050, according to the International Panel on Climate Change.

These trails contribute significantly to global warming caused by aviation. Scientific studies have shown that contrails have five times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and they contribute around 10% to 15% to aviation's global warming, while carbon dioxide only contributes 3% to 4%.

“The climate challenge for aviation in the atmosphere is huge, and the industry knows the problem. At Aero Engine Craft, we are devoted to offering a solution to save the planet by reducing aviation’s climate impact due to contrails,” said Dr. Sarah Qureshi in an interview with Gulf News. “This work is ahead of its time,” says Sarah. ‘We have a revolutionary idea that could change how the aviation industry works.” 

Sara has invented revolutionary technology that eliminates contrails at the source and recovers water from fuel exhaust emissions as a net positive product - rain. This innovation can be a valuable resource for many countries suffering from drought.

As Elon Musk disrupted the automobile industry with electric vehicles, Qureshi is disrupting aviation by showing that a greener future is desirable and achievable. 

Just as Musk's ventures have spurred competition and collaboration among automakers to develop electric vehicles, Qureshi's breakthrough has ignited a race to create even more efficient and sustainable aircraft. Qureshi's journey from a dreamer to an industry disruptor mirrors Elon Musk's. Both have faced skepticism and doubters, but their unwavering belief in their visions has propelled them forward. 

Sarah Qureshi Biography 

Sarah Qureshi attended OPF Girls College in her hometown, where she completed her elementary and secondary education before earning a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the National University of Science and Technology. From March 1997 to December 2000, she worked as an engineering intern for Rastgar Engineering Company. 

Qureshi began taking flying lessons after receiving her bachelor's degree, and the Lahore Flight Club granted her a private pilot's license. She has 70 hours of flight time, and she has also done some acrobatic flying. She obtained her MS in Aerospace Engineering from Cranfield University and is a lifelong aviation enthusiast. The same university later awarded her a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. 

She spent years working in the automotive sector for businesses like Tesla Industries, even though her background was primarily focused on aerospace engineering. Dr. Sarah Qureshi co-founded Aero Engine Craft with her father, Masood Latif Qureshi, after supervising MSc projects at the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Cranfield University from October 2015 to September 2017 while pursuing her Ph.D. Since October 2017, she has served as the business's CEO. 

Dr. Sarah Qureshi continued to develop an environmentally friendly airplane engine that her father had initially created when she was pursuing her Ph.D. under the direction of Professor Pericles Pilidis. The engine has no contrails and is advertised as greener than standard engines. Although it has already been granted two international patents, Qureshi predicts that it will be some time before the engine is made commercially available. 

Challenges that Sarah Qureshi Faced 

Sarah chose to be a mechanical engineer and was the only female student in her class at the National University of Science and Technology in Rawalpindi. "It wasn't easy," she admits, "but my family and teachers were encouraging, which gave me the confidence to keep going." Sarah worked in the automotive and engineering industries after college. She was awarded a scholarship to pursue her Master's degree at Cranfield University, an aerospace research center in the United Kingdom. Sarah married a few months after returning to Pakistan in January 2009, in March. In 2010, she returned to Cranfield University to pursue a Ph.D. 

Sarah's daughter was born during her M.Phil studies, and she was permitted to study in Pakistan. Her study issue was about airplane contrails and their environmental impact. 

Qureshi has experienced numerous challenges throughout her career. One of these challenges was completing her Ph.D. while caring for her newborn daughter. Aside from that, she was the only female in her college engineering class, which made her feel like an outcast. But, according to her, she was always given the needed assistance and never felt hampered. 

Dr. Sarah Qureshi has been a visiting academic at Cranfield University since July 2016, in addition to developing the environmentally beneficial contrail-free aviation engine. Her advice to young entrepreneurs is to appreciate and maximize their time. 

Change in Aviation Industry by Sarah Qureshi 

Aircraft engines produce water through combustion, releasing the liquid through the plane’s exhaust. The water freezes in the cold atmosphere at high altitudes, forming clouds known as contrails that trail behind the aircraft. These artificial cirrus clouds reflect sunlight to space and contribute to the greenhouse effect. Scientists estimate they have five times the potential of carbon dioxide to create global warming. 

At the time, most ongoing research focused on contrail mitigation or avoidance. Sarah followed another line of inquiry, working on the research question with her father. Masood Qureshi invented a device that would eliminate contrails at the source. The apparatus condenses water vapor into a liquid that can be carried on board the aircraft to be discharged later. The aim is contrail capture rather than suppression. “This work is ahead of its time,” says Sarah. ‘We have a revolutionary idea that could change how the aviation industry works.” 

Photo: Sarah Qureshi Facebook

Sarah Qureshi Journey: A Story about Family 

"Aviation has been a passion for me since I was a child, as I grew up in a family of scientists and engineers," reflects Sarah Qureshi with a nostalgic smile. "We had scientific discussions at the dinner table...my parents shared their interests with us." 

Indeed, the Qureshi household was a hub of intellectual curiosity and scientific exploration. Sarah's parents, both esteemed scientists in their respective fields, fostered an environment where knowledge and innovation flourished. The dinner table conversations were not your typical family chit-chat; they delved into the depths of scientific theories, groundbreaking discoveries, and the limitless possibilities of human ingenuity. 

As Sarah reminisces about those formative years, she speaks with gratitude about her parents' profound influence on her journey. Their scientific pursuits were not confined to the lab; they extended into the realm of family life, igniting curiosity and a thirst for knowledge in young Sarah's mind. 

Photo: Sarah Qureshi Facebook

And now, as Sarah herself walks the path of innovation and pushes the boundaries of aviation, she carries forward the legacy of her parents' passion and intellect. She shares her own experiences with her six-year-old daughter, ensuring that the spirit of scientific exploration continues to thrive in the next generation. 

"My daughter accompanies me when I'm traveling or delivering lectures," Sarah reveals. "There's a lot of invisible learning going on." It is a testament to the enduring power of family and the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next. The Qureshi family's scientific discussions not only nurtured Sarah's passion for aviation but also sowed the seeds of inspiration in her daughter. In this familial cycle of learning and growth, the legacy of scientific curiosity is passed down, ensuring that the spirit of innovation remains alive. 

Sarah's journey is not just a personal one; it is a story of family, shared interests, and of the unspoken bonds that drive us to reach for the stars. As she continues to shape the future of aviation, she carries with her the wisdom and support of her parents, knowing that she stands on the shoulders of giants. 

The invisible learning within the Qureshi family is a testament to the enduring power of familial connections. It is a reminder that our passions and dreams can be nurtured and encouraged within the embrace of a supportive family unit.

If this story inspires you, follow Sarah Qureshi's journey on her social media:

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