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The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and its predecessors have been represented in Hamburg since the 1950s. Situated close to Hamburg’s other aerospace industry, the Aviation and Space Psychology Department of the Institute for Aerospace Medicine is one of the leading skills centres for the selection of personnel in the aerospace industry. DLR’s Institute of Air Transportation Systems has also been based here in Hamburg since 2007.

The institute, is a collaborative venture with the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg; the Hamburg DLR_School_Lab can be found at the university's campus.

Institute for Aerospace Medicine – Department of Aviation and Space Psychology

The Department of Aviation and Space Psychology in DLR’s Institute for Aerospace Medicine has been based in Hamburg since 1955. Its main job is the psychometric filtering of operational personnel such as pilots, air-traffic controllers and astronauts. It also caters for certain aspects of behavioural training for operational personnel.

The Field of Aviation (Aviation and In-flight Security)

Selection and training of personnel is particularly important in the field of aviation, as nearly seventy per cent of all air accidents can be attributed to human error. Advances in computer support for aviation systems and in-flight security has produced a change in the allocation of tasks between people and machines. Although the new technologies signify a change in what it means to be a pilot or an air-traffic controller, the core task of the operator at the workplace remains the same: he or she is responsible for the entire system, and must guarantee the reliability and safety of air traffic. Automated control and monitoring systems, and different forms of information transfer may significantly facilitate the job; however, they require a radical overhaul of the preconceived ideas of the past. In order to prepare pilots and air-traffic controllers for the new situation, there need to be special efforts made in psychometric testing and training. Apart from information processing at a high abstraction level, personality factors are becoming increasingly important in assessing the probationary period of operational personnel, as well as their ‘non-technical skills’. These include decision-making and problem-solving under pressure, good communications skills and the ability to work as part of a team, or manage a team. In creating new psychological procedures for the aerospace industry, it is now possible to use computer models to give psychometric testing and training a more precise and economically-viable form. Knowledge obtained from research in the target area of ‘selection and training’ can be directly converted into practical applications. Continuing scientific R&D safeguards the high quality of work at DLR and ensures flexibility in relation to changes in technological trends in aviation and the changing demands on operational personnel.

The Field of Space Travel

The selection and training of operational personnel (mission scientists ) is also becoming more and more important. Since 1977, DLR has been carrying out selection and training procedures for space missions. Since 1991, scientific activity has been concentrated on the impact of the extra-terrestrial environment on the sensitivities and mental ‘fitness’ of astronauts. The quality-management system has been ISO 9001-certified since April 2002. The certificate applies to Germany and the rest of the world, and covers the entire process of psychometric assessment.

Email address: Testcenter-Hamburg [at] dlr [dot] de

Institute of Air Transportation Systems

The institute was set up in a collaborative venture by DLR and the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg. Its brief is the design, analysis and evaluation of new air transport concepts. Aircraft are merely one component part of the total complex of elements in the aviation industry that also includes in-flight safety systems such as navigation and communications technology, airports and airstrips and the infrastructure which links them to the ‘outside world’, and flight operations.

The development of new, more efficient aircraft is based to an increasing extent on highly-integrated systems that interact with each other on many levels. This interplay is not immediately apparent in the design of individual components of an air-transport system. The aim is to achieve an integral research approach which focuses on the aircraft, analysing the interplay between the various elements in the aviation industry. This integral approach and development of new concepts in a range of fields should result in a balance of sophisticated industry-wide solutions.

In order to achieve this task, the institute co-ordinates the research work of the various individual DLR institutes and the TU Hamburg-Harburg and relates that to the aerospace industry.

In particular, the work of the institute includes:

  • Development of new concepts for air-transport systems
  • Technical, ecological and economic evaluation of technologies in the context of the system
  • Multi-disciplinary development of individual ‘virtual products’ for the air-transport system
  • Development of processes to simulate the air-transport system
  • Educating new scientists to be able to assess the system

Last modified:
13/12/2018 15:20:25



Prof. Dr.-Ing. Joachim Block
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) - German Aerospace Center

Sitemanagement Braunschweig, Göttingen, Trauen

Tel.: +49 531 295-2100

Fax: +49 531 295-12100
Peter Maschke
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) - German Aerospace Center

Aviation and Space Psychology

Tel.: +49 40 513096-0

Fax: +49 40 513096-60
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Volker Gollnick
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Air Transportation Systems, Director

Tel.: +49 40 42878-4197

Fax: +49 40 42878-2979