With flying skate fish into the future?

Image: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

They currently only exist on computer screens of researchers, universities and development departments of various companies, remind of Star Wars, or exist as a few meters of remote-controlled models. They look like flying skate fish and could be seen at the airports of the world in 20 or 30 years.

Professor Detlef Schulze, Head of the Department of Vehicle Engineering and Aircraft Construction at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW), is one of the experts who is instrumental in the development of the revolutionary designs. Together with other professors of the HAW he is thinking about completely new construction methods. A variant in the blended wing body (BWB) is an aircraft whose fuselage flows smoothly into the wings. This creates an aircraft cabin that can transport more than 1000 passengers.
If global air traffic is doubled in the next 15 years and even sixfold by 2050, there would be a need for such air giants on the routes between the metropolises of the world. Schulze and his colleagues assume that the skate fish-shaped airplanes consume about 25 percent less fuel than a comparable aircraft of conventional design.

Accupressions and a zone for aroma, light and sound therapy

Mobility with minimal damage to the environment will be an important factor in the future air transport market. Volker Gollnick of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) recently told the press. His institute is also working on BWB concepts. In the case of these machines, not only is the external appearance unusual. The passengers will be given a completely new feeling of flying with seats far away from windows – if one does not renounce these to a smoother outer skin and therefore even better aerodynamics anyway. With holographic representations, a close-to-the-art artificial external appearance could be created. At the german Airbus location Hamburg- Finkenwerder, a cabin innovation team is developing ideas for the interior of the aircraft of future generations. The guiding principle: Passengers are to arrive at the destination more vital and healthier than they have startet at the departure airport. There will be seats that vitalize the passengers with accupressions and a zone for aroma, light and sound therapy.
Although it would take at least 20 to 30 years before the large flying triangles of the BWB category connect the continents.

As a remote-controlled model at a scale of 1:30 with a span of 3.20 meters one can see such an airplane occasionally in the airspace near Itzehoe. A student group headed by HAW professor Thomas Netzel built the model consisting of lightweight plastic materials.


Until the production of a real jet, however, there is still much to explore. One of the challenges is the design of the pressure booth. The production of this for a BWB machine is considerably more complex than for a plane in cylindrical form, according to Netzel.
In addition to the membership in the Airbus Global University Partner Programs, the students of Schulze and Netzel are also participants in the international student network with interfaces to the Center for Applied Aviation Research ZAL, DLR, NASA, Airbus and Boeing. This has been part of the “New Flying Competition 2018” and is currently focusing on aerodynamics, production technology, the use of new materials, cabin layouts of the future and acoustics. The future has begun.

An interview with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Detlef Schulze, Head of Aerodynamics Laboratory, Department of Vehicle Engineering and Aircraft Engineering, HAW Hamburg.

Visionsblog.info: Professor Schulze, the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences is a researcher in the field of vehicle technology and aircraft construction and is working in the area of new flying with numerous European universities and the University of Sydney. Can you describe the exchange in more detail?
Detlev Schulze: HAW Hamburg has an extensive network of foreign universities for the exchange of students in the framework of international semesters, as well as for the realization of cooperative doctoral projects in the field of aircraft construction, but also in other areas of HAW Hamburg. Recently, HAW has been a member of the exclusive AGUPP – Airbus Global University Partner Program. In this network, 21 universities are represented worldwide. The central point is the further development of the engineering training.

Visionsblog.info: HAW Hamburg has a wind tunnel and laboratories for lightweight construction, aircraft cabin systems and cabins. What is currently under investigation?

Detlev Schulze: Current research areas are fiber composite structures (repair methods), 3d printing, aircraft configurations, cabin layouts and systems, production methods and techniques, and acoustics.

Visionsblog.info: What has become of the AC 20.30 project, the HAW Hamburg flyer? What is the current state of affairs?

Detlev Schulze: The project AC20.30 was the predecessor project to the current student club ;Neues Fliegen e.V. `- This club has developed the competition “New Flying Competition”, an international scientific pilot flight contest that addresses the future of flying. International student teams deal with the issue of the energy-efficient flying of commercial aircraft with reference to criteria of civil aircraft construction. In doing so, new aircraft configurations or individual aspects such as, for example, Span expansion or new drive concepts are implemented and tested on the flying model.

Visionsblog.info: The Blended Wing Body (BWB) is also being developed as part of the “Neues Fliegen e.V.” project. In 2016, an international student model competition was held. Who won it and what?

Detlev Schulze: In the NFC 2016 competition, the task was to develop and fly a multi-engine, energy-efficient aircraft that could transport one of three previously defined payloads. The criteria of civil aviation, such as the Energy-efficient flight, controllability in the event of a critical engine failure and a large shift in the center of gravity, compliance with minimum and maximum flight speeds, and structural resilience. A preliminary design report, a critical design report and a final design report were also to be handed out by the student teams. This was supplemented by a science slam video.
Teams from China, Turkey, Poland and Germany participated. The competition has won the Northwestern Polytechnic University Xian / China. The HAW Hamburg team finished second!

Image: HAW Hamburg

Visionsblog.info: The students of the project “New Flying e.V.”, whose mentor you are, have devoted themselves to the topic “Advantages of the spanning magnification for commercial aircrafts” within the competition “New Flying Competition (NFC) 2018” it was introduced to Airbus. What did Airbus experts think of it?
Detlev Schulze: The topic has been very well received by the Airbus experts. Proposals for improvement on the part of the experts have been incorporated into the task and the regulations. I am very proud to have developed such a good subject to our students of the association. All of the members of the organization have been thinking about the task and the rules and have worked very well together. The “Lessons learnt” from the 2016 competition are also included.

Visionsblog.info: Further topics of the NFC 2018 are energy efficiency, slow and fast flight speeds, structural resilience, two design reports and a science slam video. What can you say?
Detlev Schulze: In addition to the pure requirements for the aircraft, the industrial design and development process is also to be depicted. Therefore, the two design reports, which arise at different times in the development process of an aircraft. In the Science Slam video, a competitive theme is to be entertained, but still physically and technically correct. This means that the students are required to prepare an ambitious topic in a comprehensible manner for laymen.

HAW Hamburg

Energy efficiency is a key issue of flying. The overall design of the aircraft is to be considered and not only isolated aerodynamics. It is therefore a holistic view on the aircraft and ultimately also on its operation.
The structural resilience of an aircraft, including a model, must definitely be guaranteed to ensure safe operation. The structural mass also plays an important role in energy efficiency. In the NFC 2016 competition, some models have come up against the load capacity limit.
Energy efficiency and flight speeds are also linked. Since a commercial aircraft on the one hand should have the highest possible flight speed, but also have good low-speed characteristics (for example, take-off / landing), different design criteria are addressed when these requirements are taken into account.

Visionsblog.info: NASA and Boeing are conducting research at the Nasa Langley Research Center in Virginia in the Nuflügler area. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has also been researching the field of blended wing body for years. Is there an exchange, are there interfaces to HAW Hamburg?
Detlev Schulze: The exchange with different research facilities nationally and internationally takes place within the scope of research projects and within cooperative doctoral degrees. Particularly national and international research projects are to be mentioned as well as the cooperation between HAW Hamburg and the Center for Applied Aviation Research – ZAL in Hamburg-Finkenwerder. The focus is not only on aerodynamics, but also on questions of production technology – 3d printing, the use of new materials, cabin design and acoustics.

Interview: Johanna Wenninger-Muhr

Further information on BWB



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