Programme and Strategy: Aeronautics Research at DLR

German Aerospace Center
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Visualisation of airflow

Airflow can already be simulated using complex algorithms, instead of physical tests in a wind tunnel or in the air.

Improving maintenance processes through VR applications

The development of augmented and virtual reality environments should allow better planning, forecasting and implementation of maintenance processes and intervals.

Image 3/10, Image: DLR/Ernsting

HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft)

DLR’s converted Gulfstream G550 is a globally unique research platform for the study of the atmosphere up to an altitude of 15,000 kilometres.

Test facility for tracking unmanned aerial vehicles using laser

Optical laser detection of unmanned aerial vehicles is being tested at the DLR site in Stuttgart.

Image 5/10, Image: DLR/NASA/Friz

Joint research flights with biofuels

NASA’s ‘flying laboratory’, a DC-8, flies closely behind the DLR A320 ATRA (Advanced Technology Research Aircraft), in the Airbus’ exhaust stream. On board, scientists measure the composition of the exhaust gas stream and investigate the effects of biofuels such as HEFA on the formation of soot particles and ice crystals.

ES 135 FHS and superARTIS on the apron

DLR’s flying helicopter simulator (FHS) and unmanned superARTIS helicopter used a common airspace during flight tests.

Rotor test stand

Researchers at the DLR site in Braunschweig have tested a new method for making helicopters quieter, more energy-efficient and less prone to vibration.

AVES – air vehicle simulator

The air vehicle simulator (AVES) consists of two high-quality systems for simulating aircraft and helicopters at the very highest level.

High-altitude platform

In the near future, fixed-wing aircraft flying at very high altitudes could open up applications that are currently the sole preserve of satellites.

Image 10/10, Image: DNW-HST

Wing model in the wind tunnel

Real-time flutter analysis was carried out in the High-Speed Tunnel (HST) at the DNW in Amsterdam.

The air transport system of tomorrow will be environment friendly, safe, quiet and efficient. It will connect people and markets and thus make an important contribution to the mobility needs of a global society. In tandem with this, the increase in global air traffic and the question of environmental responsibility pose major challenges for the aviation industry.

Shaping the air transport system of tomorrow

The main objectives of DLR aeronautics research are therefore to avoid the emission of pollutants from aircraft, to reduce aircraft noise, to develop uncrewed flight systems and to digitalise the aviation industry, all the way from development through to analysis-based certification, manufacturing and maintenance.

With its interdisciplinary research, DLR covers the complete air transport system, from individual components through to the technical challenges of entire aircraft and the complex interaction of air traffic. A total of 22 institutes and facilities are developing solutions, using innovative technologies and processes, in order to reveal new perspectives for air transport. With its research expertise across the entire air transport system, DLR can make well-founded proposals for next-but-one generation of aircraft.

The guiding concepts for DLR aviation research

Within DLR air transport research, six key concepts define the core challenges in aviation for safe and environment friendly flight. They focus the programmatic control on target products, across disciplinary and institute boundaries. The goal is to pursue and implement key technologies within the framework of national guiding concepts and international programmes, working together with industry. This aim extends to the virtual integration of an innovative aircraft.

Personnel from various institutes and research disciplines at DLR are working closely together on innovations for air transport. They cover the entire air transport system, from individual components through to the technical challenges of entire aircraft and the complex interaction of air traffic. In doing so, they are seeking to conduct a complete lifecycle assessment and technological evaluation.

The research programme of the Helmholtz Association

A whole-system approach is a prerequisite for influencing the overall air transport system. The influences and interactions of all technologies, processes and methods involved in the complete system must be recorded and evaluated simultaneously from the beginning. This guiding principle will be implemented in the future Helmholtz programme through four integrated programme themes:

  • Efficient vehicle
  • Air transportation and impact

These four programme themes will enable the exploration and evaluation of all the components involved in the air transport system, such as the aircraft, the passengers, operational activities including navigation and communications, the integration of the aircraft into the airspace and the environment, and aviation infrastructure – all through an integrated approach at the highest system level. The aircraft and the processes involved throughout its lifecycle, from design, development and manufacturing through operations and maintenance to decommissioning and recycling, are all taken into consideration. In addition, the thematic structure guarantees an even higher level of connection with the requirements and goals of the leading system suppliers.

Key technologies for environment friendly and efficient air transport are being researched, tested and implemented in cooperation with industrial partners.

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