Aeronautics Research

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  • 15 Meter über dem Boden: ATRA sammelt Insekten
    Fifteen metres above the ground: ATRA collects insects

    Researchers around the world are working on the development of laminar flow wings. Among other features, these are substantially smoother than current wings and therefore produce less drag. The largely undisturbed, turbulence-free airflow is what gives these high-tech wings their name. In future, they may substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from air transport. However, insect contamination disturbing the laminar flow would eliminate these reductions.

  • Modell eines Hubschrauber%2dRotorblattes im Windkanal.
    Model of a helicopter rotor blade in the wind tunnel

    Model of a helicopter rotor blade in the transonic wind tunnel. Air is blown through openings near the leading edge in order to improve the aerodynamics.

  • Computersimulation von Wirbeln
    Computer simulation of vortices

    Reduced pressure on the top of the blade draws air upwards; this produces a vortex – the blade tip vortex – that is then directed downwards. When other rotor blades subsequently come into contact with these vortices, the 'chopping' or throbbing noise characteristic of helicopters is produced.

  • Fliegender Hubschrauber Simulator (ACT/FHS) mit Fly%2dby%2dLight%2d und Fly%2dby%2dWire%2dSteuerung
    Flying Helicopter Simulator (ACT/FHS) with fly-by-light and fly-by-wire control systems

    Thanks to its optical and electronic control system, the FHS can simulate the flight behaviour of other helicopters.

  • Forschungsflugzeug Falcon des DLR
    DLR research aircraft Falcon 20 E

    The DLR research aircraft Falcon 20 E is one of the most important aids in the investigation of the Earth and the atmosphere. The Falcon is used in research projects worldwide.

  • DLR%2dForschungsflugzeug Falcon
    Measurement flight of the Falcon over the Eyjafjallajökull volcano on 1 May 2010

    On 1 May 2010, the Falcon took off at 13:00 CEST for another measurement flight over Iceland and its plume of volcanic ash. Despite light cloud cover, measurement conditions were almost perfect. The flight took the Falcon directly over the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. At a distance of approximately 200 kilometres from the volcano, the Falcon flew several times over the volcanic ash cloud at an altitude of six kilometres.

  • Höhenforschung mit HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft)
    DLR HALO research aircraft

    The HALO high-altitude research aircraft (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft): starting in late 2008, this modified business jet, a Gulfstream G 550, will join the DLR aircraft fleet in data-gathering flights around the globe.

  • Analyse eines Nurflüglers.
    Analysis of a blended wing body

    Aerodynamic analysis of a blended wing body; the colours indicate the pressure distribution.

The primary objective of DLR aeronautics research activities is to enhance the competitiveness of Germany and Europe's aerospace and air transport industries and to achieve governmental and societal objectives. In addition to fundamental research work, DLR is primarily concerned with applied aerospace research and development.

DLR has set itself the challenge of making the fast-growing air transport sector efficient, environmentally friendly and sustainable. DLR's aerospace technology portfolio is geared towards the objectives stated in the European strategy paper 'Flightpath 2050' and its German counterpart, 'Luftfahrt 2020'. The main aims are (compared to 2000):

  • Reduce the cost of air transport by 30%
  • Reduce accident rates by 80%
  • Increase the volume of European air traffic to 16 million flights per year
  • Reduce carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by 50% and 80%, respectively
  • Reduce perceived noise levels by 50%

Strategic Research Agenda (SRA)

To achieve these aims, the Advisory Council for Aeronautic Research in Europe (ACARE) developed the 'Strategic Research Agenda', or SRA, from which DLR's aeronautics strategy is largely derived. Based on the new European vision 'Flightpath 2050', ACARE has developed the 'Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda' (SRIA), which has been incorporated into DLR's aeronautics strategy.

With its existing institutions, its active involvement in the German-Dutch Wind Tunnel (DNW) and the European Transonic Wind Tunnel (ETW) and a fleet of research aircraft (e.g. Falcon, HALO, ATRA), DLR can investigate all aspects of air transport systems. Research in this area covers land- and air-based operations at airports, the airplane as a highly complex system and flight management systems.

To ensure the objectives of 'Flightpath 2050' are successfully implemented, DLR is expanding its capability for systems analysis and technological evaluation of air transport systems. An essential factor in developing enhanced evaluation capabilities is numerical simulation, based on computer-aided calculations of the air flow around an aircraft, and the experimental validation of such calculations; DLR's technology portfolio places strong emphasis on both of these.

Rotary-wing research

The helicopter plays a significant and largely independent role in aviation worldwide. Building on large-scale research facilities developed over more than 25 years, including the ROTOS rotor test apparatus and experimental aircraft such as the Bo-105 and EC 135 FHS helicopters, DLR carries out some of the world's most advanced research in the areas of rotor aerodynamics and dynamics, overall system specifications, the dynamic interaction between pilot and helicopter and the control and guidance of rotary-wing aircraft.

European linkages

DLR's aeronautics research encompasses both civilian and military interests. The centre's military research goals are geared towards the long-term needs of the German defence ministry and are defined in close coordination with relevant authorities and with industry, both in Germany and across Europe.

In addition to applied research activities, fundamental research is an indispensable aspect of DLR's work. One particlarly important focus is 'Air Transport and the Environment,' on which fundamental research is conducted by the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres (HGF). The researchers aim, first, to understand the considerable effect of growing volumes of air transport on the environment and, second, to improve weather forecasting as applied to air travel.

DLR is linked with Europe's leading aeronautics research institutions through EREA (Association of European Research Establishments in Aeronautics). The institution enjoys a particularly close relationship with its French counterpart ONERA (l'Office National d'Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales) and Dutch counterpart NLR (Nationaal Lucht- en Ruimtevaartlaboratorium).

Last modified:
03/08/2016 13:12:06



Horst Hüners
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) - German Aerospace Center

Programme Directorate Aeronautics

Tel.: +49 2203 601-3698

Fax: +49 2203 601-2767