Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will acquire a Falcon 2000LX from Dassault that will serve as a flying testbed, able to simulate in-flight control responses for a variety of aircraft types, including unmanned systems.
Under the agreement signed last month at the 2018 Berlin Air Show, the twinjet—an experimental aircraft used previously by Dassault for flight testing and development—will be transferred to the manufacturer’s Bordeaux-Mérignac base for conversion to an instrumented flight test vehicle slated to begin initial testing in 2020.
Later, the aircraft will return to Dassault for two further conversions that will transition it to full in-flight Systems and Technology Airborne Research (iSTAR) operational capability. Upon completion in the mid-2020s, the full-capability iSTAR aircraft will be used by DLR to evaluate flight characteristics such as aerodynamics, structures, propulsion, and flight control of actual or virtual aircraft in real-world conditions.
"Dassault is granting DLR access to its in-house development expertise and extensive experience in aerodynamics," stated Pascale Ehrenfreund, chair of the DLR Executive Board. "The Falcon 2000LX has the required flight and safety margins we need for a research aircraft and greatly enhances our ability to conduct interdisciplinary research throughout the aviation system."
"DLR is one of the largest and most respected aeronautics research centers in the world and we are proud to be part of this ambitious new test and research program," said Dassault CEO Eric Trappier. "This project will make a significant contribution to improving the safety and efficiency of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, which is a top priority for the aviation industry."
Upon completion, iSTAR will be equipped with additional control surfaces and an experimental digital flight control system. "With the iSTAR research aircraft, DLR is acquiring the ability to perform in-flight simulation, which is a powerful tool for assessing the flight characteristics of newly developed aircraft configurations under realistic conditions," added Rolf Henke, DLR executive board member for aeronautics.
Henke identified likely iSTAR missions as testing components to improve aircraft efficiency and environmental impact, automated taxi, takeoff and pilot assistance systems, and equipment to facilitate the safe introduction of UAVs into controlled airspace.
Other hardware onboard will include the EASy II cockpit suite developed by Dassault Falcon and Honeywell, an enhanced flight vision system and Rockwell Collins head-up display, and Dassault Falcon's Sphere II electronic flight bag suite. The iSTAR aircraft will be based at DLR’s Brunswick, Germany site, and officials state the aircraft will be available for use by other national and European research institutes, as well as aircraft OEMs and suppliers.