16. December 2019
Flying at the limits

The DFG, DLR and the Helmholtz As­so­ci­a­tion en­able cut­ting-edge re­search for sus­tain­able avi­a­tion

Aircraft model in the Transonic Wind Tunnel
Air­craft mod­el in the Tran­son­ic Wind Tun­nel
Credit: ©ETW & IAG / Universität Stuttgart

Aircraft model in the Transonic Wind Tunnel

The im­age shows a pho­tomon­tage of a wind tun­nel mod­el over which a nu­mer­i­cal sim­u­la­tion of the aero­dy­nam­ics of a com­mer­cial air­craft at high air­speeds has been placed. Nu­mer­i­cal sim­u­la­tion and ex­per­i­men­tal re­search in the wind tun­nel go hand in hand to gain new in­sights in­to aero­dy­nam­ics close to the speed of sound.
  • Focus: Aeronautics

The German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; DFG) is funding a new research group that will be dedicated to investigating open issues relating to the complex aerodynamics of aircraft at transonic speeds, under the scientific direction of the University of Stuttgart. The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren; HGF) is supporting the 'Research into transient phenomena and interactions during high-speed stalls' research group by funding access to the European Transonic Wind Tunnel (ETW). As an industrial partner, Airbus is providing a model as a test vehicle for wind tunnel experiments. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) brokered this cooperation and is supporting its progress by acting as a bridge between the scientific research and technological applications. It is also making available optical measurement systems that are globally unique in order to be able to carry out experimental investigations at the ETW. Thanks to this new alliance, scientists from several German aeronautical research groups and at DLR now, for the first time, have extensive opportunities to analyse the phenomena of stalls at high speeds and under realistic flight conditions in detail. This scientifically demanding project, which has total funding of approximately 6.7 million euro over three years, will contribute towards more efficient designs for future wide-bodied aircraft, thus making them lighter and more environmentally friendly.

"Given its expertise and experience of operating large-scale research facilities, DLR is a key interface for German aeronautics research," says Rolf Henke, DLR Executive Board Member for Aeronautics Research. "Thanks to DLR’s aeronautics research programme, we are in a position to bring the work of various different interest groups together, especially fundamental research and the subsequent users of its scientific findings, namely industry. Our work on climate-friendly aviation will only prove successful if we can manage to bring together all of the stakeholders."

One area of focus for the research group is what is referred to as a high-speed stall, a transition region at high transonic flight speeds in which the airflow separates and the wing begins to undergo strong vibrations. As an aircraft approaches the sound barrier, supersonic areas with shock waves form on the wing and around the engines, radically changing the aerodynamic properties and limiting the range of speeds that can be flown. A stall can easily occur behind the compression shock. The researchers are looking to investigate the stall and its consequences in detail using flow field measurements and computer simulations. A better understanding of the physical phenomena is an essential prerequisite for developing lighter and more economical wings.

Realistic wind tunnel tests are absolutely indispensable in order to be able to answer such scientifically demanding and application-relevant questions. The European Transonic Wind Tunnel is one of only two facilities in the world to offer an opportunity to study the physical mechanisms that occur on large aircraft during actual flight, under controlled conditions on the ground.

  • Falk Dambowsky
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-3959
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
  • Prof. Dr. Ralf Rudnik
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Aero­dy­nam­ics and Flow Tech­nol­o­gy
    Telephone: +49 531 295-2410
    Fax: +49 531 295-2320
    Lilienthalplatz 7
    38108 Braunschweig
  • Dr.-Ing. Lars Koop
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Aero­dy­nam­ics and Flow Tech­nol­o­gy
    Ex­per­i­men­tal Meth­ods
    Telephone: +49 551 709 2460
    Bunsenstraße 10
    37073 Göttingen
  • Dr.-Ing. Guido Dietz
    Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor
    Eu­ro­pean Tran­son­ic Wind Tun­nel (ETW)
    Telephone: +49 2203 609-116
    51147 Cologne
  • Dr.-Ing Thorsten Lutz
    Head of work­ing group Air­craft Aero­dy­nam­ics
    Uni­ver­si­ty of Stuttgart

    In­sti­tute of Aero­dy­nam­ics and Gas Dy­nam­ics, Air­craft Aero­dy­nam­ics Work­ing Group
    Telephone: +49 685-63406


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