The “Advanced Technology Research Aircraft” ATRA, an Airbus A320 constitutes an important and flexible tool for the European aeronautics industry in order to tackle the challenges related to the always increasing needs for eco-friendly and efficient air transportation. Technical modifications have been made progressively and are still being made to the originally standard A320 aircraft, which permits always broader and always more flexible flight testing capabilities.
Through the formations provided by Airbus to the DLR engineers on the A320 systems as well as through the joint activities of DLR and Airbus over the years, the DLR acquired the capabilities required to operate such a complex aircraft and to structure its flight test organisation accordingly. This capability build-up phase has included – among others – the following tasks:
Another crucial precondition for performing the flight tests is to prepare and equip the aircraft with all the necessary flight test instrumentation. This encompasses the sensor and data acquisition systems but also the necessary onboard computers, which permits to process the data in real-time and generate the information that flight test engineers as well as the flight test engineers need. The Institute of Flight Systems was assigned the development of the base flight test instrumentation (FTI) package of the ATRA and is responsible for all further FTI developments and for providing continuous support to the users of ATRA.
Permanent modifications are
In addition to the onboard equipment, the suited ground segment equipment has also been put in place and encompasses:
ATRA is used in several research projects involving:
ATRA is a very versatile platform which has been developed to fulfill the very broad needs and expectations of both the internal DLR researchers and of the European aeronautics industry.
This acquisition and the transformation of this flying platform and of the underlying installations and capabilities has only been possible thanks to a very significant financial and work effort for DLR. This extraordinary effort enables DLR to bring the traditional gap between research institutions and industry stakeholders, by demonstrating high readiness levels for the technologies invented at DLR and shortening the introduction of these technologies into operational products.