A close look at advanced research: DLR at the ILA 2010 with its airborne stars

Europe’s largest operator of research aircraft presents current and future developments in all areas of aviation and space flight

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Falcon 20E “ash hunter” on a mission as a flying ambassador of the ILA

Humanoid robot “SpaceJustin” at the ILA for the first time

Berlin, 28 April 2010 – The German Aerospace Centre will be strongly represented at the ILA 2010 the (DLR), emphasizing its role as one of the leading institutions devoted to advanced research in all sectors of the aerospace industry. From 8 to 13 June the DLR will be one of the largest exhibitors at the International Aerospace Exhibition, held at Berlin-Schönefeld Airport, where it will occupy a 600 square metre stand in Hall 9, as well as participating with twelve exhibits at the Space Pavilion, and with a display featuring a whole fleet of research aircraft and helicopters. Among the aircraft it is planning to present to the professionals and the general public will be the A320 ATRA, Do228-101 D-Code, EC135FHS, G550 HALO and the Antares, as well as the Dassault Falcon 20E. The latter aircraft was the focus of international aviation attention just a few days ago when it was deployed as an “ash hunter”, investigating the impact of the cloud of ash from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull on the atmosphere over Europe. The concentration of volcanic ash was measured at altitudes of between 2,000 and 12,000 metres. Along with the HALO the Falcon is also undertaking a mission, as revealed by the logo “100 years of the ILA” on its cockpit, to promote the world’s oldest air show wherever it goes.

Take a close look at some research aircraft

The DLR Falcon 20 E research aircraft has been in service since 1976 and is one of the main platforms for German and European airborne research into the atmosphere. The flying laboratory for environmental and climate research flies at higher altitudes than most civilian aircraft and can be used, for example, to obtain readings in the vicinity of thunderstorms or just 30 metres behind the engines of a commercial aircraft. In the middle latitudes the Falcon has a ceiling that enables it to reach the lower stratosphere, which has been the focal point of much research in recent years on account of the receding ozone layer.

The world’s first manned aircraft to be powered by fuel cells, the Antares DLR-H2, will be making its first appearance at any air show during the ILA. The project, which the DLR has been conducting for several years, represents a new standard in the field of high-efficiency, emission-free energy conversion: enabling the Antares DLR-H2 to take off, fly and land without producing any CO2 emissions.

The largest aircraft in the DLR research fleet, the Airbus A320-232 ATRA (Advanced Technology Research Aircraft), will be appearing in its new DLR livery. In airliner format the Airbus offers a wide range of uses from basic research to r & d activities on behalf of the European aviation industry. The ATRA is enabling the DLR and its partners to explore new possibilities in commercially available aviation research.

HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft) is a new German research aircraft for use in atmospheric research and earth observation. With its combination of a long range (up to 8,000 km), ability to fly at high altitudes, its payload (up to 3,000 kg) and its flexibility the Gulfstream G550 executive jet is a unique flying laboratory. All the regions of the earth, from the poles to the tropics and remote areas in the Pacific, can be accessed with the HALO. Apart from the tropics HALO can also obtain readings in the important intermediate layer between the troposphere and the stratosphere.

In Braunschweig the DLR operates a testbed with no equivalent anywhere else in Europe, an EC 135 FHS (Flying Helicopter Simulator), which has been developed jointly with Eurocopter Deutschland (ECD) and Liebherr Aerospace Lindenberg (LLI). The main elements of the technology used in the FHS are the fibre optic links for controlling the aircraft (fly-by-light), intelligent actuators and sensors, a modular computer architecture and the very latest cockpit displays. Equipped with these capabilities the FHS can undertake a wide range of missions including trials of new helicopter systems, pilot training, the development of new control and regulating systems and the simulation of the flight properties of helicopters that are still on the drawing board. Pilots can test new systems and helicopters in flight under realistic conditions.

The Dornier Do 228-101 with the registration D-CODE is being used by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Braunschweig as a multi-purpose airborne research platform for a wide range of experiments. These include investigations into the airflow over the laminar profiles of airfoils, optical sensors for generating artificial outside views, and air guidance systems, as well as remote sensing.

From alternative fuels to disaster relief missions

An extensive range of the research activities of the DLR can be seen in Hall 9: These include investigations into alternative fuels to make aviation more climate-friendly. Current findings have shown that the fuels of the future could even be superior to kerosene in terms of reliability and environ-mental properties. The first commercial airline flight using a fuel consisting of 50 per cent synthetic gas to liquid (GtL) and the same amount of kerosene took place in 2009 as a joint venture involving Shell, Rolls Royce plc and Qatar Airways. The GtL display is showing a demonstration burner for liquid fuels, illustrating the combustion of various alternative fuels which could be used in aviation.

The DLR is also exhibiting a section of the slat from a A340-600, made of a thermoplastic material with a built-in de-icer, representing a major advance in carbon fibre reinforced polymer construction. Together with its partners the DLR has developed a slat made of carbon fibre reinforced polymer, with built-in de-icing. The leading edge of the wing is subjected to particular stresses, it has to be able to cope with bird strikes, and should not be allowed to ice up. The risk of fracture in the event of a bird strike has led scientists to develop carbon fibre reinforced poly-ether-ether-keton (CF-PEEK), which is more flexible than other synthetics. Researchers have also been able to reduce the weight of the slat by some 20 per cent. To counteract the problems posed by icing the partners have developed an electro-thermal heating element.

The positional and guidance system known as the Disaster Management Tool (DMT) provides effective support when disaster relief missions are being flown. The DMT supplies high definition aerial photos on which thematic maps can be superimposed to enable local information such as the type of damage and the location of resources to be visualized and documented. With the DMT the DLR combines the three core areas of communication, navigation and satellite-assisted earth observation to create an integrated solution.

A Schools’ Radio Laboratory was set up at the DLR site in Göttingen, which was later expanded into a large and representative schools’ laboratory, and since then it has been in great demand among pupils and their teachers. DLR_School_Labs can now be found at nine different locations. At the ILA 2010 the DLR is presenting experiments by pupils dealing with the subjects of ”Ultrasound Test Bench”, ”Vacuum” and “Infrared Light”.

DLR presents key technologies at the Space Pavilion

One of the key technologies in the space flight sector is represented by the humanoid robot SpaceJustin. Controlled from the earth, this service robot can also function in orbit. With two five-fingered hands his movements resemble those of a human being. The operator can give commands to move the arms, fingers and head, by means of a haptic man-system inter-face which, conversely, provides the operator with information about the force being exerted by the robot, and about its movements. SpaceJustin’s “pair of eyes” even enable it to obtain a three-dimensional picture of its surroundings and relay the details to the operator. As a result of this multimodal link the person controlling the robot has a sense of being “present” at the remote location. With this tele-presence technology SpaceJustin is capable of carrying out complex repair tasks in orbit, thereby reducing the burden on the astronauts.

The DLR is displaying a model of the AsteroidFinder/SSB space telescope for the first time. Inner Earth Objects (IEO) are difficult to identify, and to assist in this process the DLR is planning to use a compact satellite programme to launch an AsteroidFinder mission on the standard satellite bus /SSB. The intention is to observe IEOs from earth orbit using a telescope with a new kind of high performance camera. The aim of AsteroidFinder is to add significantly to the fund of knowledge about the number, size and trajectory of nearby asteroids.

In the field of earth observation the DLR is one of Europe’s leading research facilities. The DLR is presenting the exhibits dealing with the subject of earth observation using a landscape in relief onto which the earth observation data is projected. The DLR’s earth observation missions even enable the earth to be studied through cloud cover.

The TanDEM-X is due to be launched in June 2010, marking the start of the mission of the same name. The TanDEM-X mission (TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurement) uses as its basis two virtually identical earth observation satellites: TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X, which are both equipped with a modern, high performance radar system known as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). Over a period of three years they will build up a 3D relief model of the earth. They will not have to rely on daylight and can also operate irrespective of the cloud cover.

Also being featured at the ILA, the Centre for Satellite-Assisted Crisis Information ( ZKI) is another service from the DLR which is designed to rapidly provide, process and analyze satellite data for use in the event of a catastrophe. In addition to providing a reaction to a crisis, and enabling assessments to be made, the work carried out by this service, and the analyses that it provides, will focus on relaying geo-information that can be used in subsequent reconstruction and also for crisis prevention.

The “Global Monitoring for Environment and Security” ( GMES) project is evidence of the growing cooperation in Europe in the field of earth observation. GMES is a joint initiative by the EU and the ESA aimed at setting up an independent European system for global environmental and security monitoring. GMES links satellite-assisted earth observation with airborne terrestrial and maritime measurement data and with other data sources. In the same way that meteorological satellites are used to provide weather forecasts, GMES will supply space-based earth observation technology for the benefit of society as a whole.

For additional information:

Andreas Schütz, German Aerospace Centre (DLR)
Communication, Press Spokesman, Tel.: +49 2203 601-2474,
Mobile: +49 171 3126466, Fax: +49 2203 601-3249
Email: andreas.schuetz@dlr.de.

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