From 20 to 25 May 2014, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will be at the Berlin Air Show (Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung; ILA), presenting numerous concepts for more sustainable, safer and comfortable air travel. In the outdoor area at the air show, DLR will be exhibiting a number of its research aircraft, including the Falcon 20E atmospheric research aircraft. The Space Pavilion, designed by DLR in collaboration with its partners, will be showcasing the TORO walking robot and a number of current European space missions.
From America to New Zealand – the DLR Falcon research aircraft
The DLR Falcon 20E atmospheric research aircraft will fly directly to ILA in Berlin after concluding a mission with the US space agency NASA at Edwards, California. In this mission, researchers at the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics and the DLR Research Flight Department are currently investigating the emission of pollutants from alternative fuels and their effects on the climate and atmosphere. While a NASA DC-8 with a modified engine conducts flights using different mixtures of alternative fuels, the DLR Falcon follows it, investigating the emissions in flight – especially carbon particulates and condensation trails. The measurements are being carried out as part of the ACCESS II (Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions) project. After ILA, the researchers will replace the instruments on the Falcon at the DLR site in Oberpfaffenhofen, and prepare the aircraft for its next mission, the DEEPWAVE (Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment) research mission in New Zealand. Once there, the DLR research aircraft will fly along the Southern Alps in New Zealand, investigating atmospheric gravity waves, which influence short-term weather patterns as well as long-term climate events.
Real-time vibration monitoring
Everything on an aircraft vibrates – for example the wings, the tail and the engines. It is important that the amplitude of the vibrations does not become too large. Aircraft are getting lighter and lighter and, at the same time, becoming more susceptible to strong natural oscillations caused, for example, during abrupt aircraft manoeuvres or by a wind gust. For this reason, the vibration stability of new aircraft must be measured before being certified. Using a system developed at the DLR Institute of Aeroelasticity, vibrations in aircraft or models can be safely and efficiently monitored in a wind tunnel. An array of sensors continually records all movements during the process. The measurement data is sent directly to a software package developed at DLR to be assessed and displayed in real time. In this way, the engineers can monitor how the vibrations are changing and whether they are approaching a critical threshold value while the aircraft is operating, or on a model. “We can approach such critical points very accurately without destroying the model or structures in a wind tunnel, where extreme situations are investigated,” explains Marc Böswald, Head of Structural Dynamics and Aeroelastic System Identification, describing the benefits of the system. The sensors can be attached to models that are tested in a wind tunnel, but they can also monitor an aircraft while in flight. Scientists will be demonstrating the system using a model of an Airbus A350 on the DLR stand at ILA.
Music from the cabin wall
Music and crew announcements from the side panel of the aircraft instead of from a loudspeaker – and some quietness if preferred. The DLR Institute of Composite Structures and Adaptive Systems has developed an aircraft side panel to provide good acoustics and less noise in the cabin. Actuators integrated into the aircraft side panel cause it to vibrate, enabling passenger announcements and music to be played and rendering separate loudspeakers redundant. These actuators can also be used to reduce vibrations and, hence, noise levels in the cabin. Low frequency noise, which can be particularly noticeable, can be reduced by up to eight decibels. The passive noise insulation used until now, which significantly increases the weight of an aircraft due to the heavy insulating material used, can be reduced using the new system.
Rubbing shoulders with the DLR TORO walking robot
In the Space Pavilion, DLR and its partners – the European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Aerospace Industry Association (Bundesverband der Deutschen Luft- und Raumfahrtindustrie; BDLR) – will be presenting current Earth observation projects and space exploration missions, including the Rosetta comet mission with the Philae landing probe, and the MASCOT asteroid lander. DLR will be showcasing the TORO humanoid walking robot at ILA for the first time. Perhaps TORO will follow in the footsteps of the famous C-3PO, the humanoid, shiny, golden android in the Star Wars saga, and explore other planets. For Michael Suppa and his team at the DLR Robotics and Mechatronics Center, the 1.70-metre-tall robot, at its 75 kilos, is already a hero: “Unlike his older brother Justin, TORO can not just roll but walk on two legs – this is an important step into a new dimension for us, in the truest sense of the word,” the engineer reports. TORO is based on the technology of the DLR lightweight robot. Using numerous sensors, the walking robot can sense its surroundings, respond sensitively to influences from its environment and move around it autonomously.
More information on DLR’s extensive presence at ILA and important information on the air show can be found on our special ILA website. The latest reports, webcasts and images will also be found there during ILA.