Above the clouds: the fly­ing lec­ture the­atre

The manager of Oberpfaffenhofen airfield has been offering students of aeronautics and space exploration, and other interested atmospheric scientists, the opportunity of carrying out an 'in-flight practical'since 2005. The concept was developed in collaboration with universities and other institutes of further education and lets students experience research flights live.

The 'flying lecture theatre' replaces other, earlier forms of practical experiment involving research flights for flight engineers. The concept allows students to obtain high-quality results on the forces exerted and movement data in research flights, the sort of data a research flight engineer needs to assess the flight behaviour of an aircraft. The number of passengers has doubled since the deployment of a Cessna 208 Grand Caravan. Nonetheless, the information obtained heas improved for all concerned. The reason behind this is a telemetry system that comprises an interial platform and two computers, which store all available data and re-process them so that they are visible on-line.

Test cases have been designed for various manoeuvres in collaboration with universities; they allow each phase to be logged in minute detail, and accompanying data to be captured (such as fuel consumption and, consequently, the aircraft mass during the flight). In this way, manoeuvres can be prepared.

With additional weight, the aircraft's centre of gravity can be altered from flight to flight. In this way, a fairly large group of students, split among several flights, can have access to a wider database and more individual records can be calculated.


Oliver Paxa

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Flight Experiments
Münchener Straße 20, 82234 Weßling