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.
Bardarbunga, (Bárðarbunga) in Iceland, one of the largest volcanoes in Europe and located beneath the biggest glacier in Europe, became active again in mid-August. For several years now, DLR researchers have been keeping a close eye on Bardarbunga and the system of volcanoes associated with it – an enormous network of subterranean magma channels, vents and craters.
The flight plans of DLR until 23 July include some unusual flight tests. During extremely low-level passes across the grounds of Magdeburg/Cochstedt Airport, the A320 ATRA will collect insects for aerodynamic research.
Atmospheric gravity waves influence the weather and long-term, climate-related atmospheric processes. For a number of nights between 29 June and 23 July 2014, the DLR Falcon research aircraft will be flying over the New Zealand Alps (Southern Alps) to investigate how these waves propagate from Earth's surface up to an altitude of around 100 kilometres using modern laser metrology and other instruments.
Scientists at DLR Göttingen have achieved a world first – showing the deformation of an aircraft propeller blade during flight. They have developed a special camera that can resist the enormous forces exerted during rotation.
In time for the start of the Berlin Air Show (Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung; ILA) and coming straight from joint flight trials with NASA in Palmdale, California, the DLR Falcon 20 E research aircraft landed at the Berlin Show Ground.
At the 2014 Berlin Air Show (Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung; ILA), the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is showcasing its research results for the aerospace of tomorrow with more than 60 exhibits on the DLR stand (Hall 4), in the Space Pavilion and in the Career Center. DLR's research aircraft and helicopters will be on show in the outdoor display area.
Biofuels provide an opportunity to lower the carbon dioxide footprint of air travel and to reduce the potential climatic effects of particle emissions and enhanced cloudiness by aviation.