Future aircraft concepts

The EXACT project, run by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), is developing a concept for climate-friendly flying in commercial aviation and takes into account the complete life cycle of an aircraft, its components and its fuel.


  • Aircraft shapes of the future

Which technology paths can drastically reduce emissions in aviation? How can alternative propulsion systems operate ecologically yet also economically? What adjustments to current processes and infrastructure are necessary to achieve this? The aim of the DLR project "Exploration of Electric Aircraft Concepts and Technologies Projects" (EXACT) is to design concepts for climate-friendly flying while analysing and evaluating the entire life cycle of the aircraft. 

In addition to aircraft designs, EXACT also studies new fuels such as SAF and hydrogen as well as their production. The researchers are also investigating what logistics are required of aircraft operators, energy suppliers and airports to minimise the ecological impact of aviation.

EXACT led by the DLR Institute of Aviation System Architectures in Hamburg. The project, which launched in early 2020, will run for four years. A preliminary fleet concept consisting of regional, short-haul and medium-haul aircraft with a wide range of propulsion variations is available as part of the mid-term results. These include regional aircraft with electric propulsion and short-haul and medium-haul aircraft with turboprop and turbofan engines. These can be hybrid-electric powered using hydrogen fuel cells or use direct combustion of hydrogen or sustainable aviation fuel.

An important aspect of EXACT is that it addresses the entire life cycle of an aircraft, from production through operation and decommissioning to recycling. This also includes the life cycle of the energy source itself. This long-term view aim is critical to achieving climate-neutrality over the entire life cycle of the aircraft.

New technologies will be required for hydrogen-powered aviation. In addition, the airport, infrastructure and maintenance facilities must be adapted and the staff retrained. The overall goal of the EXACT project is to develop an operational aircraft configuration with at least 70 seats and a range of 2000 kilometres by 2035.