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DLR Senate gives the go-ahead for the foundation of seven DLR institutes

05.07.2017Companies and Organisations

Two institutes for Hamburg // Institutes contribute to the German industry sector and play a role in societal challenges in the areas of digitalisation, mobility, logistics and energy supply // Focus: aeronautics, space, energy, security, digitalisation, Big Data, Industry 4.0

The Senate of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) approved the establishment of seven DLR institutes in its meeting on 28 June 2017. DLR was tasked with building new institutes by a resolution of the Budgetary Committee of the Deutscher Bundestag in November 2016. Since then, the scientific concepts for these institutes have been assessed by international reviewers and representatives of the industrial sector and independent science institutions. This decision by the Senate as external committee has now given DLR the green light to begin research activities at the institutes themselves. The German government has awarded DLR 42 million euro in annual funding to complete this task. The German states hosting the institutes will contribute a total of five million euro to the annual funding as well.

Brigitte Zypries, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, said: "The new institutes will enable DLR to contribute solutions to the digitalisation of industrial processes, energy supply and smart mobility, and to develop technologies of high commercial relevance. We are happy that DLR is rapidly addressing the establishment of these new institutes and will hence support the Federal Government's policies in these important and promising fields."

Contributing to the national industry sector and societal challenges

"With these new institutes, DLR will be in a better position to address the entire research chain - from fundamental research and the development of individual components and technology, to complete system design," said Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board. "They will therefore make essential contributions to Germany's industrial sector and societal challenges with regard to digitalisation, mobility, logistics and energy supply. As such, they are also key factors in the implementation of DLR's overall strategy."

The reviewers confirmed that all of the activities planned at the new DLR institutes address long-term research needs and that they harmonise very well with the current DLR research portfolio. Moreover, they believe that the scientific, economic and industrial communities will each provide strong support. The new institutes are expected to contribute to the new cross-sectoral area of digitalisation as well, which DLR has incorporated into its new strategy. Moreover, they will promote interdisciplinary work and hence lead to further synergy between the research areas of aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security, as well as foster new collaborations within the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. The DLR Scientific-Technical Advisory Council (Wissenschaftlich-Technischen Rat; WTR) will accompany the process of establishing the institutes. In addition, the Head Office of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres took charge of the implementation and organisation of the scientific assessments.

Following their foundation on 28 June 2017, the new DLR institutes will be opened in the coming months. With regard to the Hamburg-based institutes, the DLR Senate concurred with the assessment of the reviewers and will - contrary to the foundation concept - establish two institutes. The funding earmarked for the institute in Hamburg will now be divided among the two new institutes. With these newly founded institutes, DLR is now present in nine German states.

Short profile of the DLR institutes in Hamburg that will be established in the coming months:

Institute of System Architectures in Aeronautics

The aviation 'system' comprises many different areas that need to be coordinated precisely. For instance, the complex field includes the air transportation system as a whole, the individual aircraft and the production of sub-components. The Institute of System Architectures in Aeronautics researches the interactions between the individual system levels. One of its goals is to ensure the safe and efficient integration of technologies from automation, digital production processes and new aircraft energy systems. The research will focus on connecting virtual product design with digital production (Industry 4.0) and on developing new solutions for the aircraft fuselage and cabin.

Institute of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul

An aircraft will experience numerous maintenance processes over the course of its life. Although important for operational safety, an aircraft is not available for ordinary flight operations when undergoing these elaborate and regular procedures. The research conducted by the Institute of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul in Hamburg will, for the first time, address the entire maintenance process - from analysis and monitoring of a structure, to the derivation of mitigative measures and their implementation. For this, innovative technologies such as augmented reality and 3D printing, are investigated in particular. The researchers will build a digital model for each aircraft that will age just like its real counterpart, undergoing the same maintenance measures and modifications. This digital twin will permanently support the efficient and predictive operation of its real counterpart. The scientists will also maintain an application centre to test the deployment of new technologies for data integration and visualisation, as well as to integrate individual process steps such as monitoring and repairs.

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