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German-US design competition for the aircraft of the future

DLR and NASA award-winning aircraft concepts

27 September 2018

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  • Das deutsche Siegerteam der TU%2dMünchen bei der Preisverleihung
    The German winning team of the TU Munich at the award ceremony

    At the award ceremony at the NASA headquarters in Washington DC (from left to right): Patrick Stieb, Isa Held, Artur Usbek, Alexander Frühbeis.

  • Das Flugzeugkonzept 'eRay' des siegreichen Teams der TU%2dMünchen.^
    The aircraft concept ‘eRay’ of the award-winning team from TU Munich

    With the ‘eRay’ concept, the winning team from TU Munich created an aircraft with a consistently integrated turbo-electric propulsion system. Notable features include the propulsion units on the trailing edge of the wings as well as a slightly raised tail plane, which facilitates optimal integration of an electric turbine at the rear of the fuselage.

  • Gruppenbild zum Siegersymposium der DLR/NASA%2dDesignChallenge 2018
    Group picture at the award ceremony of the DLR/NASA Design Challenge 2018

    Over one hundred students participated in the DLR/NASA Design Challenge. The winning German team as well as the award-winning US teams took place in the award ceremony at NASA headquarters in Washington DC.

  • Participants in the DLR/NASA Design Challenge create concepts for aircrafts of the future with radically reduced energy consumption.
  • Joint award ceremony for the winners at symposium held at the NASA headquarters in Washington D.C.
  • The Technical University of Munich presents its award-winning 'eRay' concept with rigorously integrated turboelectric propulsion.
  • The US winners impressed the jury with their design's forward-swept wings and arrangement of electrical fans, along with a turbo-electrically operated blended wing body.

The DLR/NASA Design Challenge has just been held for the second time. This year, the partners awarded the prizes for the winning concepts at a joint symposium held at the NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. Present was the winning German team from the Technical University of Munich with their ultra-efficient aircraft design, the 'eRay' aircraft concept, which has no windows and only one main turbofan engine supplemented with an arrangement of smaller electric motors. On the US side, the 'Cete Volantem' and 'HEAT' (Highly Efficient Air Transportation) concepts shared first place. In total, over 100 students from the USA and Germany took part in the competition.

"Today aviation is facing the overall challenge of becoming much more efficient in future and massively reducing emissions, whileat the same time securing ongoing growth," says DLR Executive Board Member for Aeronautics, Professor Rolf Henke. "We can only master these challenges through intensive international cooperation. The joint DLR and NASA aircraft design competition is a symbol of the remarkable cooperation between our two aviation organisations and thus presents ideas for achieving successful change." NASA Aviation Administrator Jaiwon Shin adds, "We're living in a very exciting time in aviation with new perspectives and possibilities. The younger generation will shape this future and I’m happy to see so many students participating enthusiastically in this design contest."

This year, the team from the Technical University of Munich came out on top among the German entries thanks to their 'eRay' concept, which offers rigorously integrated turboelectric propulsion. Notable features include the propulsion units on the trailing edge of the wings as well as a slightly raised tail plane, which facilitates optimal integration of an electric turbine at the rear of the fuselage. In addition, the students did away with windows, alone resulting in a seven per cent weight reduction, and thus lowering emissions accordingly. Overall, this design reduces fuel consumption by 64 per cent, according to analysis carried out by the Munich-based students, who attended the symposium at the NASA headquarters to pick up their award. There they met the five best-placed US teams participating in the competition.

"It was a huge honour for us to be able to present our project to NASA experts and the US students at the opening of the symposium," says team leader Alexander Frühbeis, who travelled to Washington DC with his fellow team-members Isa Held, Patrick Sieb and Artur Usbek. The team of students from Munich used a variety of synergetic effects in their design, in particular boundary layer ingestion, whereby the boundary layer, which is a significant factor for the frictional resistance of the airflow, is used for increasing the efficiency of the engines. They also reduced the resistance by employing a smaller tail surface, using active turbulence reduction to impressive effect and reducing the structural weight by introducing an innovative cabin concept that rendered windows redundant.

On NASA's side of the competition, the team from the University of California came out on top with their 'HEAT' concept, a ray-shaped, so-called blended wing body equipped with a turbo-electric propulsion system arrangement that enables energy savings of 66 per cent. Of the US teams, the team from the University of Virginia also achieved first place with its 'Cete Volantem' concept. This design features particularly striking forward-swept wings and an arrangement of electrical fans on the back of the aircraft. The fuselage is inspired by a blended wing body, which generates its own lift. The students have calculated potential energy savings of 80 per cent for this configuration.

A partnership steeped in tradition

The German and US aerospace institutions have worked closely together for many years. In terms of aeronautical research, both partners are heavily involved in joint research projects relating to air traffic management, flying with low levels of noise and emissions, as well as joint test flights to investigate alternative aviation fuelsrelating to air traffic management, flying with low levels of noise and emissions, as well as joint test flights to investigate alternative aviation fuels.

Last modified:
12/11/2018 10:23:58

Contacts

 

Falk Dambowsky
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Media Relations

Tel.: +49 2203 601-3959
Karen L. Rugg
National Space Administration (NASA)

ARMD Lead for Communications/Education

Tel.: +1 20 23582-197