The primary objective of DLR aerospace 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 'Vision 2020' and its German counterpart, 'Luftfahrt 2020'. The main aims are:
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 will replace the existing SRA in 2012. The SRIA will then be 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), 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 'Vision 2020' 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.
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.
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).