ZAL Tech Center going bigger as demand grows

Over 30 industrial partners now working in ZAL
17 November 2022
ZAL's building complex

The Centre for Applied Aeronautics Research (ZAL) in Hamburg-Finkenwerder is to be expanded from 26,000 square metres to meet growing demand, a press release said Thursday (November 16, 2022). The first phase of the expansion will add 8,000 square metres to the ZAL Tech Center by 2024 followed by a brand new building later. More than 30 companies including Airbus, Lufthansa Technik, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Hamburg's universities operate from ZAL, which has been fully booked since 2016. 

Aviation innovations from Hamburg

"Hamburg is the world's third largest civil aviation location. We want to expand this position," said Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics. That requires even more innovations in aviation, which could be accelerated by an expanded ZAL Tech Center, he noted. An "open hangar space" is to be created in the new areas, according to Roland Gerhards, CEO of ZAL GmbH. Research into projects by changing partners will be implemented there. Additional space will be created on site without renting other areas. That will ease the support of innovations and prototyping, if required.

ZAL's representatives at foundation stone ceremony
© ZAL/Daniel Reinhardt
Otfried Mante (Managing Director of ReGe ), Michael Westhagemann, Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Roland Gerhards (from l. to. r)

Sustainable flying - more research at ZAL

ZAL focuses in particular on sustainable aviation. DLR has researched zero-emission flying since 2017. "We and our partners in science and industry are devoting ourselves to focal points such as the generation of renewable energies for new propulsion systems, the design of new types of aircraft through to their maintenance and subsequent recycling," said Prof. Dr Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Chair of DLR's Board of Directors. Emphasis is on industry in Hamburg and producing climate-neutral aircraft. The extension will accommodate another 200 DLR employees at ZAL, who will also investigate the use of hydrogen tanks and fuel cells in new types of aircraft in future.

Growing demand for capacity 

Around 600 researchers work on improving aircraft cabins, robotics and automation and sustainable fuels at ZAL. "The direct networking between aviation and air transport industry in the ZAL Tech Center offers ideal conditions for achieving the goals of the European Green Deal together." Kaysser-Pyzalla pointed out. However, the inadequate space at ZAL is impacting efforts to keep up with demand. DLR will lease an annex with two institutes which will account for the additional 8,000 square metres of space for 25 years. An entire new building will be dedicated to sustainable mobility and start-ups and ZAL already has a growing number of rental enquiries. The extension now under construction is due for completion in the first half of 2024.

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