Aero-Dienst to maintain the DLR research aircraft ISTAR


Aero-Dienst and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have signed a four-year contract that will see the Nuremberg-based service provider maintain the DLR’s Falcon 2000LX ISTAR aircraft.

The contract covers all work to be done on the Falcon 2000LX that is not covered by the DLR’s own maintenance organisation. The scope ranges from base maintenance such as 12M, 24M and 36M inspections to special inspections of engines or structural parts that are required in connection with internally or externally commissioned research projects involving ISTAR (In-flight Systems & Technology Airborne Research).

“We are extremely pleased to have been able to conclude this four-year contract with the German Aerospace Center,” said Florian Heinzelmann, Dassault maintenance manager at Aero-Dienst. “The confidence placed in us is the result of our quality work, as well as the performance and enthusiasm of our Falcon team. This definitely underscores our capabilities on the global stage.”

ISTAR underwent its initial conversion phase at Dassault, according to the DLR’s specifications, 18 months ago. It is the newest member of the DLR fleet of 12 aircraft (including helicopters).

When fully equipped, ISTAR will be capable of testing the flight characteristics of new aircraft designs in real-life operating conditions either directly or virtually, and manned or unmanned. The aircraft is used to ascertain data for optimised aerodynamics, flight guidance and flight control. It is also intended to contribute towards the digital transformation of aviation – the DLR plans to create a digital twin for ISTAR that will accompany it for its entire service life.

“This research aircraft plays an essential role in the development of new, environmentally friendly and efficient aircraft, engines and assistance systems, because the technology needed for climate-neutral aviation will be pushed ahead with the aid of ISTAR,” said Martin Gestwa, head of the research flight department and technical operations at the DLR. “In view of extensive modifications to DLR research aircraft, maintenance and repair procedures differ significantly from those used for unmodified aircraft. So, we are very grateful to have found an extremely competent partner for our ISTAR research aircraft in Aero-Dienst.”

Major maintenance work, such as the annual inspections, will be carried out by the Aero-Dienst team directly at the ISTAR base in Braunschweig, Germany. This allows the DLR specialists to make efficient use of the research aircraft’s downtime for instrument installations and modifications as part of upcoming research projects.

Aero-Dienst employs around 30 technicians in its Falcon team, bringing decades of experience and expertise in the maintenance of Falcon series business jets. Depending on the scope and type of work involved, specialists from the airframe, avionics or engine divisions will be assigned to ISTAR.

“We’re proud to be indirectly involved in aviation research projects that are so important for aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, structural engineering and propulsion,” said Viktor Peters, managing director at Aero-Dienst. “We will also be using the know-how, expertise and experience of our teams to provide the DLR with our utmost in flexible support in relevant areas for future research projects, such as experimental aircraft flight control and inflight simulation.”

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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