Alternative fuels have the potential to support the environment- and climate-friendly developments in air transport. At present, global air traffic contributes towards almost five percent of global warming. In addition to the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, condensation trails and the resulting cirrus clouds lead to a significant climate impact.
From 9 September 2015, test flights are taking place on three consecutive days in a simulated disaster scenario as part of the EU's 'Driving Innovations in Crisis Management for European Resilience' (DRIVER) project. Harrowing scenes are being simulated in Braunschweig on those days. A major flood has covered a wide area around the Tankumsee, a lake near Gifhorn; surrounding roads are also affected and people are stranded in the water.
Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are researching a morphing wing trailing edge that can be smoothly transformed into any shape and will make conventional flaps redundant. The flaps on the wings of today’s commercial airliners are actuated via a complicated mechanism. Their arrangement and the resulting gap when they are extended compromises the aerodynamics, increases fuel consumption and contributes to inflight noise. The new technology, on the other hand, is flexible, its movement being based on that of carnivorous plants. This enables the gap between the wing and the flap to be eliminated.
A tangle of treetops and branches, through which just the occasional clear area provides glimpses of the trunks and roots growing below. Whether it is woodland with German spruces or a tropical rainforest, very few sensors are able to see through this green carpet and clearly visualise the underlying structures. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is developing radar technology that, for the first time, will enable a three-dimensional visual representation of forest areas from the roots to the crowns.
Collaboration between them is already a reality, but with the signing of a framework cooperation agreement on 9 July 2015, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) have now strengthened their cooperation. Current research projects will be extended in the next five years – for example, in the area of alternative aircraft fuels – and new cooperation projects will be embarked upon to facilitate, among other things, uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAV) and aircraft cabin research.
The US aerospace agency NASA and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have signed two agreements on further scientific cooperation in the aeronautics sector. Both partners want to work together on the research topics of aircraft noise simulation and the improvement of helicopter aerodynamics.
Under the catchphrase 'Knowledge for Tomorrow', the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is presenting its technological innovations in aerospace at the Paris Air Show. The 51st Air Show in Paris, one of the largest and most important aerospace exhibitions in the world, provides an exciting platform for leading representatives of the industry.
Aircraft and vehicle manufacturing are becoming increasingly dependent on structures made of fibre-reinforced polymers (FRPs). The reason for this is the advantageous properties of these high-performance composites – they exhibit high stiffness and strength, but are low in weight.
For accurate weather forecasts and improved climate models, it is crucial to capture data about the winds over the North Atlantic as precisely as possible. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have developed a prototype of a wind lidar (light detection and ranging) that is scheduled for deployment on a new European Space Agency (ESA) weather satellite in late 2016.
The Greenland ice sheet is, in places, more than three kilometres thick and a crucial feature in climate modelling. Scientists of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), together with colleagues from ETH Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich), are currently conducting tests of new radar imaging methods in a research flight campaign over Greenland initiated by the Microwaves and Radar Institute in cooperation with the Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO).
The DLR Advanced Technology Research Aircraft (ATRA) flew at the limits of its capabilities between 16 and 19 March 2015. In a total of four flights, the test pilots flew the specially instrumented A320 passenger jet at extremely low speeds.
Aviation and the impact it can have on the climate can be integrated into international climate protection protocols. This would enable significant reductions in climate-related emissions and associated impact, with a modest effect on the demand for air transport.
The large blades of the fan dominate when looking at an aircraft engine from the front. They are also among the largest producers of in-flight noise. Researchers conducting trials at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have now succeeded in demonstrating, for the first time anywhere in the world, that fan noise can be reduced substantially by introducing compressed air.
BIROS, a microsatellite capable of detecting forest fires from space, will be launched in 2015. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) HALO atmospheric research aircraft will be flying through the Monsoon winds in the summer of 2015, investigating the effect of large-scale airflows on polluted air masses above India.
Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), in collaboration with Airbus, have completed a successful world première – for the first time, they have used lasers to visualise the airflow over the wing of a passenger aircraft in flight. They have developed a method that captures the movement of water droplets streaming over the wing, which reveals the smallest movements of the air. These findings will help optimise future wings to enable slower and quieter approach procedures. Another 'laser flight' is scheduled for 8 January 2015.
Volcanic ash can cause serious problems for aviation. Under Project VolcATS-Vehicle, researchers from DLR are investigating the effects of volcanic ash on aircraft.
Thunderclouds over rainforests are an important element in the climate system. The DLR research aircraft HALO spent the period from the beginning of September to the beginning of October 2014 in Manaus, a city in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, measuring the emergence, development and properties of tropical clouds.
Since the Icelandic volcano system of Bardarbunga began erupting, concerns about a volcanic ash cloud spreading across Europe and bringing air traffic to a standstill, as occurred in April 2010, have arisen once again. To enable the aviation industry to respond to volcanic ash more flexibly in the future, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has been developing an improved satellite-supported volcanic ash detection system as part of Project VolcATS (Volcanic Ash Impact on the Air Transport System). DLR researchers are using improved views of the situation to investigate how air traffic management can adapt flexibly to large-scale airspace restrictions caused by volcanic ash
Aircraft engine noise is a socially pressing issue with a wide range of causes. Until now, turbulent fluctuations in the exhaust gas stream have not been fully understood as one of the major sources of noise. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have now managed to make these turbulent flow structures in the engine exhaust gases visible using imaging laser measurement technology, and they have measured the overall flow behind the engine with unprecedented quality. Future generations of engines will be able to benefit from this new knowledge.
To support the safety of air transport and improve the air traffic system's response times in the critical event of a volcanic eruption, the identification of ash-free airspace is essential. At DLR, a satellite-supported procedure has been developed that rapidly determines the distribution of ash in the air and generates detailed images of areas with both heavy and light ash loads.