Flight Operations of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Braunschweig and Oberfaffenhofen (where the Flight Operations management is based) operates Europe's largest civilian research fleet of aeroplanes and helicopters. DLR Flight Operations (DLR Flugbetriebe) is responsible for providing and deploying these aircraft. These highly modified aircraft can either be the object for aeronautics research themselves, or they can be used as research platforms on which scientific equipment can be installed for observing Earth and the sea surface, or for atmospheric research.
The ACT/FHS 'Flying Helicopter Simulator' of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is based on a standard Eurocopter EC 135 type helicopter, which has been extensively modified for use as a research and test aircraft. The mechanical controls, for example, have been replaced by a fly-by-wire/fly-by-light (FBW/FBL) flight control system. Now the control commands are transferred by electric cables and fibre optic cables instead of control rod.
The Airbus A320-232 "D-ATRA", the latest - and largest - addition to the fleet, was deployed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in late 2008. ATRA (Advanced Technology Research Aircraft) is a modern and flexible flight test platform which sets a new benchmark for flying test beds in European aerospace research - and not just because of its size.
The Antares DLR-H2 research aircraft is the world's first piloted aircraft to be powered exclusively by fuel cells, ensuring that it takes off, flies and lands without emitting any carbon dioxide.
The smallest aircraft of DLR's Oberpfaffenhofen flight facility is a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, registration D-FDLR. The single-engine turboprop aircraft is mainly used by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) for remote sensing. It is especially well suited for camera flights, such as those with the HRSC (High Resolution Stereo Camera), operated by DLR and also used in space missions.
The Dassault Falcon 20E (registration D-CMET) has been extensively modified for use in research by DLR. The DLR flight facility in Oberpfaffenhofen primarily uses it for atmospheric research. International research teams measure trace gases and aerosols directly from on board the aircraft, and they collect air samples for subsequent laboratory analysis.
The single-seat DG 300-17, made of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), may look like an ordinary glider, but it is in fact quite extraordinary. The performance of the DG 300 has been accurately measured and it is used as a reference to assess the performance of other gliders. In cooperation with the Technische Universität (TU) Braunschweig, it has been specially equipped with the instruments needed for this task. It thus acts as a measuring device for other gliders - in a way, it is the calibration standard for determining their speed polars. The speed polar shows the rate of descent of an aircraft versus its horizontal airspeed.
The Dornier DO 228-101 (registration D-CODE), an airborne universal research platform, is used by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) for an exceptionally wide range of experiments. For instance, it is used to conduct laminar flow investigations of aerofoil profiles, test optical sensors that are capable of creating a synthetic outside view and flight guidance systems, and conduct remote sensing missions.
The twin-engine turboprop Dornier Do 228-212 (registration D-CFFU) is primarily used for remote-sensing missions by DLR's Oberpfaffenhofen flight facility. It has a large box-shaped cabin and large cabin floor openings. This makes it especially well suited for setting up special camera systems such as the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), which is also used for space observation.
DLR uses the powerful four-seater DR 400/200R Remorqueur - D-EDVE aircraft primarily as a glider tug. In addition, it is used as a transport aircraft and for pilot training. The single-engine DR 400/200R aircraft is based on a Jodel Robin DR 400 made by the French Apex Group.
The five-seater Eurocopter BO 105 helicopter is based on a light, multi-purpose utility helicopter made by Messerschmitt-Bölkow Blohm GmbH (MBB), and has been significantly modified for its use as a universal research platform by the German Aerospace Center's (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Braunschweig flight facility.
The new HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft) research aircraft heralds a new chapter in the history of German atmospheric research and Earth observation. HALO is based on a Gulfstream G 550 ultra-long range business jet. The combination of range, cruising altitude, payload and comprehensive instrumentation make the aircraft a globally unique research platform.
Powered by a 200 hp Lycoming piston engine, the single-engine LFU 205 has been in service since 1984 at the Braunschweig (Brunswick) flight facility of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). As the first aircraft of this class with a composite construction, it is used as a development test bed for laminar aerofoil profiles.
For more than twenty years, ATTAS (Advanced Technologies Testing Aircraft System) has been the large flying test bed of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). ATTAS was primarily designed as a "flying simulator", to simulate the flying behaviour of other - real (existing) or virtual - aircraft.