Research aircraft

Deployed around the world - flying for research

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  • Flugzeuge für die Wissenschaft
    Aircraft for research

    For more than 30 years, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has managed research aircraft. The flying testers form the platform for research missions of all kinds

    This picture shows the engine of the largest member of the research fleet, the Airbus A320-232 ATRA (Advanced Technology and Research Aircraft).

  • Vorderansicht von ATRA
    Frontal view of ATRA

    The Airbus A320 D-ATRA is 37.57 metres in length, 11.76 metres high and has a wing span of 34.10 metres.

  • Der "Fliegende Hörsaal" %2d Cessna 208B
    The 'flying auditorium' - Cessna 208B

    The Cessna C208B Grand Caravan (registration D-FDLR) was converted into a 'flying auditorium' at the Oberpfaffenhofen flight facility.

  • Das DLR%2dForschungsflugzeug Falcon 20E
    The Falcon 20E DLR research aircraft

    The DLR Falcon 20E research aircraft was selected as the most appropriate aircraft for measurement flights. The Falcon has a full range of instruments to record flight dynamics and a nose boom that records the local incidence angle at the front of the aircraft in an undisturbed airflow.

  • luftfahrt_flugzeuge_dg.jpg
    DLR's DG 300-17 high-performance glider

    The German Aerospace Center's (DLR) DG 300-17 measures the speed polar of other gliders. The results of these measurements make it possible to increase the cruise speed of non-powered aircraft.

  • Die Do 228%2d101 im Flug
    Dornier Do 228 101 in flight

    The Dornier Do 228 101 is distinguished by some modifications from the standard specification.

  • DLR%2dForschungsflugzeug Do 228%2d212 CFFU im Flug
    The DLR research aircraft Do 228-212 CFFU in flight

    The DLR research aircraft has a length of 16.56 metres (18.7 feet with nose boom), is 4.86 metres in height and has a wingspan of 16.97 metres.

  • Das DLR%2dFlugzeug DR 400 D%2dEDVE
    DLR DR 400 D-EDVE

    The DR 400 D-EDVE aircraft is used by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) primarily as a glider tug.

  • BO 105 zur Vermessung von Erprobung von Avionik%2dSystemen
    BO 105 - for measuring and testing avionics systems

    The tasks for which the BO 105 helicopter is deployed include testing and measuring avionics systems and analysing helicopter properties.

  • Fliegender Hubschrauber Simulator (ACT/FHS)
    Flying Helicopter Simulator (ACT/FHS)

    Its optical and electronic control system enables the FHS to simulate the flight performance of other helicopters, using fly-by-light and fly-by-wire control.

  • HALO bei einem Flug 2009
    HALO in flight in 2009

    HALO is 31 metres long - of which 1.6 metres is the nose boom. It is 7.9 metres tall and has a wingspan of 28.5 metres.

  • DLR%2dForschungsflugzeug LFU 205
    DLR-Forschungsflugzeug LFU 205

    Das DLR-Forschungsflugzeug LFU 205. Durch das Loch im Fenster sieht man die Infrarot-Messtechnik in der Kabine.

  • ATTAS im Flug
    ATTAS in flight

    The 'chameleon aircraft' ATTAS celebrated its 25th birthday in October 2010.

Flight Operations of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Braunschweig and Oberfaffenhofen (where the Flight Operations management is based) operates Europe's largest civilian research fleet of aeroplanes and helicopters. DLR Flight Operations (DLR Flugbetriebe) is responsible for providing and deploying these aircraft. These highly modified aircraft can either be the object for aeronautics research themselves, or they can be used as research platforms on which scientific equipment can be installed for observing Earth and the sea surface, or for atmospheric research.

About 75 employees are responsible for the aeroplanes and helicopters: technicians, engineers and pilots. DLR's 13 pilots are highly specialised, several of them hold a test pilot license. In regular flight simulator training sessions in the US and in Germany, they are trained in extraordinary flight situations and flight states. The special challenges of flying on scientific missions - for instance in the Eurocopter BO 105 with swinging external loads, or flying through strong turbulence, such as wake vortices, in the Falcon 20E - make such training indispensable.

Up to 30 scientific missions per year are entered into each aircraft's flight logs. This amounts to up to 250 flight hours in the service of science. Each of these assignments, however, requires detailed and technologically intensive preparation. This includes the often extensive modifications made to the aircraft, sometimes even at the aerospace engineering level. The requisite development and certification procedure can be handled internally by DLR. Development and airworthiness engineers at DLR's flight facilities and research institutes are entrusted with these tasks. Depending on the specific scientific task at hand, it can take several months to complete such a certification procedure. Relatively small modifications can be certified by DLR itself, while larger modifications - including structural changes to the aircraft - are implemented in cooperation with the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (German Federal Office of Aviation; LBA).

The DLR research fleet is deployed over water, icy surfaces and land across the globe, from Greenland and Spitsbergen all the way down to Antarctica, and from the US via Europe and Russia to Japan.

These institutions provide scientific services, both for DLR research programmes and for other national and international institutions, for public authorities and industrial clients. The German Federal Office of Aviation (LBA) has accredited DLR Flight Operations as aerospace engineering facility capable of independently carrying out maintenance work on its aircraft. In cooperation with DLR's own Design Organisation (Entwicklungsbetrieb), DLR Flight Operations is able to practically completely independently perform the certification procedure for modifications to aircraft for the integration and alteration of scientific components.

Last modified:
13/12/2018 09:42:04