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Research Field Aeronautics, Space and Transport

Results and recommendations of strategic evaluation

The Research Field Aeronautics, Space, and Transport is geared toward developing effective technology concepts and system solutions in order to address global challenges such as climate change, smart mobility, innovative communication and navigation, resource management, security, and future production technologies. It covers the entire innovation chain from basic research to applications.

"We were very impressed by the excellent standard of research, the large-scale, unique infrastructure, and the way in which the research field integrates new topics. 

Günther Hasinger, European Space Agency (ESA)

Programs in the 2021–2027 funding period

• Aeronautics

• Space

• Transport Participating centers

• German Aerospace Center (DLR)


• German Aerospace Center (DLR)


The experts were impressed by the broad and coherent spectrum of topics this research fi eld addresses in appropriate depth and with a very high standard of scientifi c excellence. They noted that the contributions the individual DLR institutes make to multiple programs provide new impetus across various institutes and programs. The programs have a complementary eff ect in addition to creating synergies with other Helmholtz activities. The panel also highlighted the fact that the research fi eld is equipped with extensive research infrastructure unlike any other in the world. They likewise emphasized the leading role the DLR plays in national and international cooperative projects and committees, which develop the necessary standards for certain fi elds of technology. This makes the research fi eld a sought-after partner for the national and international research and industry landscape.

The panel praised the system-wide approach the Aeronautics program applies to the air transport system throughout the entire life cycle of the aircraft. It also highlighted the signifi cant increase in its research activities in the fi eld of digitalization and electrification of aircraft construction and pilotless air transport. The experts also specifi cally acknowledged the program’s world-leading competencies in the fi elds of aerodynamics, acoustics, and new drive concepts.

The Space program impressed with its expertise in Earth observation, which is of particular relevance to observing global change, and in the area of space exploration. The experts noted that the latter enjoyed particular success in its eff orts to recruit leading scientists. Likewise, the program’s research on robotics was very positively assessed based on its very broad spectrum of applications.

In the Transport program, the experts highlighted the integrated research approach linking user-oriented perspectives with top-level technological research. This program makes key contributions to the mobility transformation, with a special focus on the areas of automation, digitalization, vehicle technologies, and integral methods of observing the various modes of transport.

Strategic Recommendations

  • Basic research should be strengthened and support should be provided to disruptive research activities – particularly those that are relevant to the climate and offer a high potential to yield new findings.
  • The research field should continue to research and develop new technologies such as quantum technologies and digitalization and integrate these aspects into traditional fields of research.
  • A strategy to set up an integrated national competence center for the mobility transformation should be developed. This strategy must combine specialist knowledge from all three programs in this research field as well as from other Helmholtz research fields and beyond the Association.

Margaux Köhler

Team Assistant Research and Controlling
Helmholtz Association

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