Hamburg officially opened a new civil aviation research facility in the borough of Finkenwerder on 7th March. The 26,000m2 ZAL TechCenter, which will accommodate up to 600 researchers, represents an investment of almost €100m. The centre is a joint project of the City of Hamburg, Airbus, Lufthansa Technik, the German Aerospace R&D Centre (DLR), four universities, and twelve other partners.
Hamburg is the headquarters of Airbus in Germany and the largest Airbus site in Germany, employing around 12,500 people in the development and manufacturing of all Airbus aircraft.
The ZAL TechCenter, which includes offices, laboratories and hangar space, will offer world-class infrastructure and will focus on six Technical Domains (TD): fuel cells, cabin technology, air conditioning systems, aircraft manufacturing, acoustics and virtual reality. The objective is to foster innovations and bring them quickly to the market.
TD1 incorporates the Fuel Cell Lab, which will explore civilian applications for hydrogen, both in aviation and in other transport segments such as local public transport and the automotive industry.
TD2, Cabin Innovation & Technology, looks at research related to aircraft cabins. The core component is the 20- meter wide, 11-meter high ZAL Cabin & Cargo Test Rig, in which fuselage cross sections of all of the world’s most common aircraft can be installed to test new arrangements of cabin elements.
TD3, Air & Power Systems, deals with the enhancement of electricity supply and air conditioning systems in the cabin.
Industrial focus is on TD4, Aerospace Production & Fuselage Engineering, covering research programmes addressing future manufacturing methods, e.g. additive manufacturing or “3D printing”, and the new automation processes often referred to as “Internet of Things” and “Industry 4.0”.
At the heart of TD5, Testing & Safety, is the ZAL Acoustics Lab. A complete fuselage section from an Airbus A320 can fit within this acoustic test chamber, one of the largest in Europe, allowing research on noise and vibration to be performed on the ground.
Within the ZAL TechCenter, TD6, General Processes & Support Topics, will focus on matters of virtual reality. A 6 x 3.5m VR-capable screen will be installed in a room with capacity for around 30 people.