10. August 2018
DLR/NASA Design Challenge

Stu­dents de­sign the en­vi­ron­ment-friend­ly air­craft of the fu­ture

The ‘eRay’ aircraft concept by the winning team from TU Munich
The ‘eR­ay’ air­craft con­cept by the win­ning team from TU Mu­nich
Image 1/7, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

The ‘eRay’ aircraft concept by the winning team from TU Munich

The win­ning team from TU Mu­nich de­signed an air­craft with an in­te­grat­ed tur­bo-elec­tric propul­sion sys­tem. No­tice­able fea­tures in­clude en­gine units on the trail­ing edges of the wings and a slight­ly raised tail plane, which fa­cil­i­tates easy in­te­gra­tion of an en­gine en­clos­ing the rear of the air­craft.
Team from TU Mu­nich
Image 2/7, Credit: ©DLR.

Team from TU Munich

The win­ning team from TU Mu­nich (from left to right): Alexan­der Früh­beis, Isa Held, Ar­tur Us­bek and Patrick Sieb.
Par­tic­i­pants in the DLR/NASA De­sign Chal­lenge in Braun­schweig
Image 3/7, Credit: ©DLR.

Participants in the DLR/NASA Design Challenge in Braunschweig

This year’s NASA/DLR De­sign Chal­lenge fea­tured sub­mis­sions by 41 stu­dents from sev­en teams at six Ger­man uni­ver­si­ties.
The Po­laris air­craft con­cept by the sec­ond-placed team from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Stuttgart
Image 4/7, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

The Polaris aircraft concept by the second-placed team from the University of Stuttgart

The most strik­ing fea­ture of the Po­laris air­craft de­sign by the team from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Stuttgart is the in­te­gra­tion of an in­no­va­tive tur­bo-elec­tric propul­sion sys­tem that us­es liq­uid hy­dro­gen for fu­el. The strik­ing, con­tra-ro­tat­ing pro­pellers that are eas­i­ly ac­com­mo­dat­ed be­tween the side tail planes at the rear of the Po­laris huge­ly raise the propul­sion ef­fi­cien­cy with­out in­creas­ing the noise emis­sions. The for­ward swept wings al­so re­duce aero­dy­nam­ic drag.
Team from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Stuttgart
Image 5/7, Credit: ©DLR.

Team from the University of Stuttgart

The sec­ond-placed team from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Stuttgart with Rolf Henke, DLR Ex­ec­u­tive Board Mem­ber for Aero­nau­tics Re­search (from left to right): Philipp We­ber, Jonas Karg­er, To­bias Di­etl, Alexan­der Za­krzews­ki, Rolf Henke.
The Air­Box One air­craft con­cept by the third-placed team from RWTH Aachen Uni­ver­si­ty
Image 6/7, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

The AirBox One aircraft concept by the third-placed team from RWTH Aachen University

The most no­tice­able fea­ture of the third-placed con­cept by the team from RWTH Aachen Uni­ver­si­ty is the eye-catch­ing wing shape that al­so gives the air­craft the name ‘Air­Box One’. The orig­i­nal ap­proach al­so in­cludes the ex­ter­nal boost­er mod­ule that is at­tached to the fuse­lage for take-off and as­cent, which can then re­turn au­tonomous­ly to the air­field.
Team from RWTH Aachen Uni­ver­si­ty
Image 7/7, Credit: ©DLR.

Team from RWTH Aachen University

The third-placed team from RWTH Aachen Uni­ver­si­ty with Rolf Henke, DLR Ex­ec­u­tive Board Mem­ber for Aero­nau­tics Re­search (from left to right): Rolf Henke, Joel Rösick, Philipp Podzus, Marc-An­toine Le Gars, Hen­drik Fuest.

  • DLR and NASA organised a joint student competition to create the aircraft of the future.
  • The winners received their awards in Braunschweig.
  • The team from the Technical University of Munich emerges victorious.
  • Focus: aeronautics, digitalisation

Alternative propulsion and low energy consumption, framed in revolutionary forms. German students are displaying immense creativity and technical skill to design the quiet and eco-friendly aircraft of the future. In Braunschweig, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) recently announced the national winners of a competition that was jointly organised with NASA to identify the best ideas for the future of airborne vehicles. This year's German winner is a team from TU Munich. Groups from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Stuttgart and RWTH Aachen University came in as runners-up. "The global, international and innovative capabilities of the aviation sector are virtually unrivalled. In the DLR/NASA Design Challenge, two of the world's preeminent aeronautics research institutions are promoting cross-border networks between students in the United States and Germany to bring fresh ideas for the aviation of tomorrow," says Rolf Henke, DLR Executive Board Member for Aeronautics Research.

The eRay Aircraft Concept takes first prize

The first prize in this year's competition was awarded to a group of students from Munich for their visionary design entitled the 'eRay Aircraft Concept'. The idea, conceived by a team of four students – Alexander Frühbeis, Isa Held, Patrick Sieb and Artur Usbek – managed to significantly reduce energy consumption and emissions. "The members of the jury were convinced by the consistent and tailored use of various closely coordinated technologies," emphasised Henke. "Overall, we were impressed by the diversity and creativeness of the concepts submitted in the competition. Each team applied a different approach to satisfy the stipulation for a radical reduction in energy consumption."

The winning team designed an aircraft with a rigorously integrated turbo-electric propulsion system. Noticeable features of their design were propulsion units on the trailing edge of the wings and a horizontal tail, which facilitates the integration of an electric turbine at the end of the fuselage. "Distributing the propulsion system in this way results in a large number of synergetic effects," says team leader Alexander Frühbeis. "The principle we exploit is called 'boundary layer ingestion', in which the boundary layer, which actually increases aerodynamic drag, is absorbed by the engines to increase efficiency. In doing so, we reduce drag by creating smaller control surfaces." In addition, the structural weight was reduced through the intriguing introduction of an innovative cabin concept, along with active turbulence mitigation. The analyses conducted by the students on the technical and economic feasibility of the aircraft indicate that eRay should be taken seriously as a future aviation concept. Frühbeis and his team estimate a 64 reduction in energy consumption.

Polaris, Future Aircraft Design Concept

Second place went to the team from the University of Stuttgart for its concept entitled 'Polaris, Future Aircraft Design Concept'. The most striking feature of this aircraft design is the novel integration of a turbo-electric propulsion system that uses liquid hydrogen for fuel. The striking, ccontra-rotating propellers that are easily accommodated between the vertical sabilisers at the rear of the Polaris hugely increase the propulsion efficiency without adding to noise emissions. What is more, the forward swept wings reduce aerodynamic drag.

AirBox One

The most noticeable feature of the third-placed concept by the team from RWTH Aachen University is the eye-catching wing shape that also gives the aircraft its name 'AirBox One'. The innovative approach includes an additional external booster module that is attached to the fuselage for take-off and ascent, and which then returns autonomously to the airfield. This means that the aircraft can be operated at cruising speed with significantly enhanced efficiency, achieving outstanding results with regard to energy consumption and emissions.

41 students from six universities

This year's NASA/DLR Design Challenge featured submissions by 41 students from seven teams across six German universities. In addition to the ones taking the top slots, applications also came in from teams representing TU Berlin, TU Dres­den and FH Aachen. The number of students participating from a variety of United States universities was also in the double digits. The winning team from Germany will travel to NASA in autumn 2018. There, they will join their peers in presenting their winning concepts at a symposium attended by renowned aeronautics researchers.

Contact
  • Falk Dambowsky
    Ed­i­tor
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-3959
    Fax: +49 2203 601-3249
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
    Contact
  • Johannes Hartmann
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Sys­tem Ar­chi­tec­tures in Aero­nau­tics
    Telephone: +49 40 248 9641-313
    Hein-Saß-Weg 22
    21129 Hamburg
    Contact
  • Daniel Silberhorn
    Air­craft De­sign & Sys­tem In­te­gra­tion
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    DLR In­sti­tute of Main­te­nance, Re­pair and Over­haul
    DLR In­sti­tute of Main­te­nance, Re­pair and Over­haul
    Telephone: +49 53 12952-031
    Hein-Saß-Weg 22
    21129 Hamburg
    Contact
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