unique research institute for lightweight materials
Moonwalker soars through
the chasms of Mars
Astronaut Eugene Cernan at DLR Berlin
New start for the Junkers F 13 project
After a long delay, the project to reconstruct a flying Junkers F 13 is once again up and
running. The Swiss company Ju Air, the Association of Friends of Historical Aircraft
(Vereines der Freunde historischer Luftfahrzeuge; VFL) and the company Rimowa have
joined forces to reconstruct a working Junkers F 13 – the first all-metal commercial air-
craft in the history of civil aviation. The reconstruction work has now started in Obern-
dorf am Neckar in Swabia.
First on the work schedule is constructing the wings and other basic structural
elements. All the official requirements have been fulfilled, so the F 13 – under Swiss
approval – is expected to roll out onto the runway for the first time in early 2015. The
Junkers F 13 is being built by Kaelin Aircraftstructure GmbH. This company also played a
significant role in the restoration of a Breitling Super Constellation.
Successful flight tests with
helicopter external loads
Researchers in Braunschweig working on the HALAS project
(Hubschrauber-Außenlast-Assistenzsystem; Helicopter External
Load Assistance System), have succeeded in using a small sensor
to measure the swinging motion of an external helicopter load
precisely. In collaboration with iMAR Navigation GmbH, they
carried out flight tests over a period of several weeks.
The sensor, which was developed by iMAR Navigation,
captures the motion of the loads in relation to the helicopter and
sends the results to the cockpit. Based on the information from
the sensor, the experimental system then accesses the helicopter’s
controls, if necessary, to take control of its flight movement and
reduce the swinging motion of the load, finally bringing it back
In future, the HALAS sensor technology will be used for
both the transportation of objects and rescuing people. Another
test campaign is planned for late 2013, to demonstrate the
automatic external load stabilisation in flight.
The Canadian Junkers F 13 ‘City of Prince
George’ is the template for reconstructing
a working model of this type.
The DLR EC-135 ACT/FHS (Active Control
Technology/Flying Helicopter Simulator)
research helicopter carrying out a flight test
with an external load on the rescue winch
The robot with the laying head has an
especially large range for picking up and
depositing the thermoplastic sections
Even an experienced astronaut can find flying into new territory a
challenge. Captain Eugene Cernan, commander of NASA’s Apollo
17 mission in 1972, experienced this during a 3D-flight through
the chasms of Mars. Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon,
visited DLR Berlin in the early summer of 2013. Thanks to the
friendly assistance of Daniela Tirsch from the DLR Institute of
Planetary Research, he enjoyed the virtual flight. “I would rather
leave the first landing on Mars to one of these motivated
youngsters,” the 79-year-old said afterwards. He talked excitedly
about his space flights with Gemini IX, Apollo 10 and Apollo 17,
and explained in moving words the importance of striving for
ambitious goals in space exploration. There is no doubt that the
fire is still burning brightly in him. During his stay, Cernan handed
over a lunar rock to the Technik MUSEUM SPEYER. The loan was
arranged through the DLR planetary researchers’ NASA contacts.
Inspired by aviation history
The Anzani engine – a piece of
Lightweight materials are among the most important futuristic tech-
nologies in aircraft, vehicle and machine manufacturing. Along with
colleagues at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, DLR scientists are working
on automated manufacturing processes for carbon fibre reinforced
plastics, CFRP, that are suitable for large-scale manufacturing. For this
reason the Center for Lightweight-Production-Technology (Zentrum
für Leichtbauproduktionstechnologie; ZLP) came into operation in
Augsburg in May 2013.
The majority of components in aircraft and Formula 1 cars are
already made of CFRP, albeit painstakingly by hand. CFRP compo-
nents weigh only half as much as their equivalents made of steel, but
are equally rigid, crash-proof and do not rust. The initial aim of DLR’s
research at the ZLP is to develop a consistent manufacturing process
for CFRP components. Robotic systems play an important part in this;
they are expected to reduce manufacturing costs and increase pro-
ductivity and quality.
The ZLP in Augsburg is equipped with several special research
facilities, making it unique in Europe. At its heart is a robot with a lay-
ing head: it grips the carbon fibres, which are coated with resin, and
deposits them on the tool. The fibres are then hardened. This auto-
mated process is suitable for use in large-scale production and pro-
vides high quality. No waste is produced.
Good ideas simply last longer – the same is true of aircraft engines. Fans of historical avia-
tion equipment have always been in awe of the small, reliable Anzani engine that carried
Louis Blériot across the English Channel in his fragile monoplane in the summer of 1909.
The three-cylinder engine in a W-construction that ran reliably at almost 1200 revolutions
per minute and had an output of 25 horsepower was clearly enough to successfully haul
Blériot’s monoplane over the mighty cliffs of Dover.
At this year’s AERO Friedrichshafen, which is now the best-established event for
general aviation, Hungary’s Pioneer Aviator Company presented a fully functioning repli-
ca of this small aircraft engine. It also produces 25 horsepower, operates at around 1500
revolutions per minute and weighs 65 kilograms.