Fields of competence

As a technology driver, the aerospace industry has considerable strategic significance to Germany as a centre of industry and innovation.

The industry’s core strengths are in aircraft equipment and modification, aircraft and spacecraft component manufacture, testing of aircraft and spacecraft structures, aerospace technology R&D projects, passenger aviation and aircraft servicing. External industrial research institutions, scientific and technical service providers and transfer, consultancy and other services complete the picture.

World standards in lightweight construction

Out of Saxony’s many stakeholders in lightweight construction, it has become Germany’s leading competence center. Lightweight construction has long meant more than just minimization of mass; it’s also about integrating functions and components while simultaneously ensuring resource efficiency and automated production. Germany’s reputable OEMs and component manufacturers are always keen to conduct research in Saxony and Thuringia.

Materials research

Saxony/Thuringia is one of Europe’s most important hubs for materials research. The Saxony materials scene is characterized by great diversity and interdisciplinary thinking. For example, ceramics developed for energy systems, and metal structures designed as lightweight, airy constructions, while polymers have long been versatile, high-tech materials. The latest fiber materials are combines with state-of-the-art processing methods to ensure they can cater to the many different requirements and application areas of 21st century technical textiles. Another field of specialization involves applying materials to components as super-thin coatings/coating systems with special functional properties.

Technical textiles – knitting 4.0

It is impossible to imagine the growth market for technical textiles without Saxony. The Institute of Textile Machinery and High-Performance Material Technology (ITM) at the Dresden University of Technology is one of Germany’s leading drivers of progress in textile technology. The spectrum of uses for the innovations is fascinating, ranging from high-tech knitting, NASA backup parachutes, and car and aircraft components, to textile bone repair materials, and scientists are regularly awarded prizes for their developments.

The #1 address for material testing

Dresden is one of the top centers for material analytics and stress-based material testing, and its well-rounded competence is highly valued by global companies like Airbus and leading automotive manufacturers. Whenever a new composite material is developed anywhere in the world, it will very likely undergo testing in Dresden. IMA Materialforschung und Anwendungstechnik GmbH designs and conducts tests for materials and components, assessing the service life, function, safety and long-term behavior of aviation, automotive and railway technology. If necessary, the road is even brought into the laboratory, as was recently the case for the fatigue testing of a large nose landing gear for Liebherr.

Dresden is a center of freighter conversion

Airfreight will represent an increasing part of global freight transport services: In the next two decades, the average annual growth of world wide air freight is forecasted with 6%. The world freighter fleet is predicted to more than double as air freight will more than triple. More than 3,000 additional freighters will be needed to accommodate traffic growth and to allow fleet renewal – three quarters of this demand will be satisfied by the conversion of mid-life passenger aircraft. The conversion of passenger aircraft into freighters offers an economic alternative to the purchase of new freighter aircraft. Within the Airbus Group, EFW (Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH) is the centre of competence for the conversion of Airbus passenger aircraft into freighters. Since mid-1996, Airbus A300 and A310 aircraft have been converted into freighters at EFW in accordance with a concept developed by the former DaimlerChrysler Aerospace Airbus GmbH. Today, EFW is the market leader in this segment.

Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul

There are 27 companies in Saxony and Thuringia with Part 145 aircraft maintenance approval, providing maintenance services for both passenger aircraft and freighters. One of these is Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH (EFW), which not only offers comprehensive maintenance packages in the various categories but also carries out structural modifications and repairs and cabin, cockpit and avionics modifications.

Microelectronics and sensor technology

“Silicon Saxony” is Europe’s largest microelectronics cluster and the fifth largest worldwide. Such global players as GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Infineon are active in Saxony. Every second chip produced in Europe bears the imprint “Made in Saxony”. Saxony’s companies and research institutions assume top positions around the globe primarily in the following fields of innovation: Intelligent sensors / MEMS, Organic & flexible electronics, Mobile communication of the next generation (5G).

Optics and optical systems

Customers worldwide rely on the unique expertise of the Thuringian optics industry. Customers worldwide rely on the unique expertise of the Thuringian optics industry. High-powered diode lasers, laser scanning microscopes and aspherical lenses for special optical filters are prime examples of sophisticated Thuringian-made technology. Multinational powerhouses such as Carl Zeiss, Schott and JENOPTIK and Jena-Optronik got their start in Thuringia. Today, they set the international standard for optics. Jena-Optronik is a pioneer in multispectral earth observation and optoelectronic sensors for the attitude and orbit control systems of satellites. The company has 40 years of experience and tradition to its name. For years, it has worked as a trusted partner of space agencies JAXA, ESA and NASA and international manufacturers of satellites.

Centre of research excellence

DLR School Lab – out of school into the lab!

At the TU Dresden DLR School Lab children and young people are transformed into young research scientists. They learn about the latest developments in energy, mobility and material technologies and discuss the importance of technological research for the future of our society. How can we make solar cells cheaper and more powerful? Is there a way to produce hydrogen that isn’t so energy hungry? What characteristics will new materials need to have to make them light, stable and suitable for a wide range of uses? Assisted by TU Dresden students, schoolchildren can plan and carry out age-appropriate experiments as part of real-life German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and TU Dresden research projects and present the results.