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Das ZAL: Hamburgs Silicon Valley der Luftfahrt © Yvonne Scheller

Silicon Valley of aviation, ZAL, to host Innovation Days

Hamburg News visited aviation centre of the future - Innovation Days from November 21-22, 2017

A polyglot of languages such as English, French and Spanish can be heard all over Hamburg’s Center of Applied Aeronautical Research (ZAL) and reflects the many international tenants there. Glass is one of the dominant features of the 26,000 square-metre building completed in late 2015 to the tune of EUR 95 million. “That is based on the principle of open innovation. The idea is to allow research partners in different research disciplines to work at eye-level and preferably in the early phase of technological developments,” said Henriette Overbeck, Event Manager at ZAL. The centre functions as a neutral research platform that bundles and complements cutting-edge technology and expertise. “That creates synergies that benefit everyone and lead to shorter development times and lower costs,” she added.

Aviation of the future

Meanwhile, nearly every single office, laboratory and hall in ZAL has been leased. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) recently opened the new Institute of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul and the Institute of System Architectures in Aeronautics, tasked with significantly reducing emissions and using the opportunities of digitalisation to achieve greater efficiency. The two institutes employ 80 staff each. Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg, and several honorary guests attended the inauguration ceremony in ZAL. But the overriding question remains and many wonder about aviation in future. “And as nobody knows the exact answer, ZAL’s infrastructure is adaptable and can meet diverse research requirements,” Overbeck explained. Airbus und Lufthansa Technik are located in two large halls where new approaches for more efficient production and operating conditions and ways of making flights more pleasant are being tried out.

Broad research spectrum – excellent results

Airbus, the University of Applied Sciences (HAW) and ZAL GmbH work on the “Acoustic Flight-LAB” in ZAL’s acoustic chamber to make flights more relaxed. “The focus of research is on how different-sized engines impact frequencies in the cabin and on drawing up an ideal noise reduction concept.” In other parts of the hall, laser shock peening (LSP) surface engineering processes are being used to improve the strength of components and the use of exoskeletons and robots in production is also being researched. Farther on, the ZAL-based Jetlite start-up is working on a special lighting concept to reduce jetlag on long-haul flights. Jetlite’s cabin lighting concept, which is tailored to the human biorhythm, won the Innovation Prize in German Aviation this year.

Innovation Days

The upcoming Innovation Days on November 21 and 22 will focus on key issues during ZAL’s inaugural conference. “Delegates can expect two days of interesting keynotes, interactive workshops, networking opportunities and guided tours of ZAL,” said Overbeck. Dr. Susan Ying, President of International Council of Aeronautical Science (ICAS), an international, non-government, non-profit scientific organization that aims to advance knowledge and facilitate collaboration in aeronautics, will open the conference. Ying will highlight “Innovation in Aeronautics – The Art of the Possible” in her speech. “Other high-calibre speakers include Fassi Kafyeke, Director of Research at Bombardier, Dr. Frank Anton, Executive Vice President of Siemens AG – Siemens eAircraft and Frank Horch, Hamburg’s Senator for Economics, Transport and Innovation. And we managed to gain Maryann Simson, a well-known aviation journalist as moderator,” Overbeck added.

New worlds of work

Speeches and workshops during the conference will focus on both technological innovations as well as best practice models in research and development. “The range extends from the content of research and objectives to means and methods of reaching these goals. Take new worlds of work for example. There are many very inspiring approaches in this field,“ Overbeck said and emphasised the many international speakers and guests. “The ‘Innovation Days’ offer an ideal opportunity for networking and exchanging ideas with some of the giants in the sector who are not so easy to meet otherwise,” she added.

Sources and further information:

ZAL - Center of Applied Aeronautical Research

ZAL – Hamburg’s Center of Applied Aeronautical Research – is the technological research and development network of the civil aviation industry in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. It functions as an interface between academic and research institutions, the aviation sector, and the City of Hamburg, to secure and continually expand the world’s third largest civil aviation location in Hamburg. ZAL works closely with the aviation cluster, Hamburg Aviation, and bundles technological competence across the city in a single facility, the ZAL TechnCenter thereby creating synergy.

ZAL’s shareholders include the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Airbus Operations GmbH und Lufthansa Technik AG with 20 per cent each. The German Aerospace Center has a share of 10 per cent while the University of Hamburg, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), University of Applied Sciences (HAW) and Helmut Schmidt University (HSU) have a share of 3 per cent each. The ZAL supporting assocation comprising 16 members including Flughafen Hamburg GmbH, the Chamber of Commerce Hamburg and Hanse-Aerospace e. V. hold the remaining share of 18 per cent.
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