Aero­nau­tics Re­search at DLR

Programme and strategy

The air transport system of tomorrow will be environment friendly, safe, quiet and efficient. It will connect people and markets and thus make an important contribution to the mobility needs of a global society. In tandem with this, the increase in global air traffic and the question of environmental responsibility pose major challenges for the aviation industry.

Shaping the air transport system of tomorrow

The main objectives of DLR aeronautics research are therefore to avoid the emission of pollutants from aircraft, to reduce aircraft noise, advance automation and electrification and to digitalise the aviation industry, all the way from development through to analysis-based certification, manufacturing and maintenance.

With its interdisciplinary research, DLR covers the complete air transport system, from individual components through to the technical challenges of entire aircraft and the complex interaction of air traffic. A total of 22 institutes and facilities are developing solutions, using innovative technologies and processes, in order to reveal new perspectives for air transport. With its research expertise across the entire air transport system, DLR can make well-founded proposals for next-but-one generation of aircraft.

The guiding concepts for DLR aviation research

Within DLR air transport research, six key concepts define the core challenges in aviation for safe and environment friendly flight. They focus the programmatic control on target products, across disciplinary and institute boundaries. The goal is to pursue and implement key technologies within the framework of national guiding concepts and international programmes, working together with industry. This aim extends to the virtual integration of an innovative aircraft.

Personnel from various institutes and research disciplines at DLR are working closely together on innovations for air transport. They cover the entire air transport system, from individual components through to the technical challenges of entire aircraft and the complex interaction of air traffic. In doing so, they are seeking to conduct a complete lifecycle assessment and technological evaluation.

The research programme of the Helmholtz Association

A whole-system approach is a prerequisite for influencing the overall air transport system. The influences and interactions of all technologies, processes and methods involved in the complete system must be recorded and evaluated simultaneously from the beginning. This guiding principle will be implemented in the future Helmholtz programme through four integrated programme themes:

  • Efficient Vehicle
  • Clean Propulsion
  • Components and Systems
  • Air Transportation and Impact

These four programme themes will enable the exploration and evaluation of all the components involved in the air transport system, such as the aircraft, the passengers, operational activities including navigation and communications, the integration of the aircraft into the airspace and the environment, and aviation infrastructure – all through an integrated approach at the highest system level. The aircraft and the processes involved throughout its lifecycle, from design, development and manufacturing through operations and maintenance to decommissioning and recycling, are all taken into consideration. In addition, the thematic structure guarantees an even higher level of connection with the requirements and goals of the leading system suppliers.

Key technologies for environment friendly and efficient air transport are being researched, tested and implemented in cooperation with industrial partners.



Olaf Heintze

Division Development
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Divisional Board Aeronautics
Lilienthalplatz 7, 38108 Braunschweig

Tim Alers

Project management
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Divisional Board Aeronautics
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne

Andreas Manecke

Head of Directorate
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Directorate Aeronautics
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne