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The southern German region has a strong history in the aerospace industry. Using this stronghold across new partnerships is paving the way for ‘green aerospace’.
While Germany has long been known as Europe’s ‘car nation’, the country is becoming increasingly recognised for their efforts above ground. The region’s aviation hi- story dates back decades and has penetrated military and civil airspace, not to mention industry and academia.

In the 100-kilometer radius surrounding Munich, you will find start-ups and established businesses alike who are working on everything from production technology to space applications.

In 2012, the Ludwig Bölkow Campus (LBC) opened its doors and has since drawn the region’s most prominent aerospace players to work on exciting cross-cutting projects. According to Professor Mirko Hornung, the Executive Director of Research and Technology at Bauhaus Luftfahrt:

“Combining the research coming out of Munich Aero- space—from the Technical University of Munich and Bundeswehr University Munich—with the German Aerospace Center and Bauhaus Luftfahrt was the nucleus. Since then, industrial partners like Airbus, IABG, and Siemens laid the foundation for the Ludwig Bölkow Campus, uniting industry and academia.”

Housed within the LBC, Bauhaus Luftfahrt is an inde- pendent, non-profit research institute that specialises in aviation. This innovative hub has attracted corpora- tions, start-ups, and academics to engage in research and development in the aviation space. In describing their shared vision, Thilo Pinar, the Managing Director at LBC, points out:

“Our perspectives are to link regions through scientific training; foster knowledge exchange between science and industry; and become an international hub for trend-setting innovations, new approaches, and hands-on training in the fields of aerospace and security. Our overarching objective is to increase corporate competitiveness and benefit society by devel- oping ground-breaking technology and engaging in top-level research to educate the next generation of scientists.”

Thilo Pinar, Managing Director of Ludwig Bölkow Campus GmbH 

From space exploration to green skies

In 2018, the Minister President of Bavaria, presented a new space strategy that injected 90 million euros into Munich’s ‘Space Valley’. However, instead of putting people on the moon, the goal was to develop innovative technologies for here on Earth.

This vision has taken form at LBC, where teams are focusing on achieving ‘green aerospace’ by reducing greenhouse emissions from planes and jets.

Dr. Hornung is quick to point out that the key technologies are interconnected: “On the engine side, research is focused on improving the core technolo- gies. Additive manufacturing and new materials are helping to reduce weight and enhance functionality. When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the spotlight is on the move away from traditional energy sources to alternative ones”.

The research-intensive industry requires further interdisciplinary collaborations and massive testing facilities. To ensure knowledge is shared among the region’s stakeholders – no matter whether the goal is incremental improvements or basic research into hydrogen-powered jets – one of the benefits in the Munich area is the cross synergies between space and aerospace. “All the expertise is here to answer any question”, Dr. Hornung points out.
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When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the spotlight is on the move away from traditional energy sources to alternative ones
Professor Mirko Hornung The Executive Director of Research and Technology at Bauhaus Luftfahrt 

Building upon a firm foundation 

In Bavaria alone, there are 550 companies working within the aerospace industry that are employing nearly 60,000 people. As Pinar explains:

“Our partners on- and off-site cover the full range of technological readiness, from basic research (universities, research institutions), prototypes and demonstrations (small enterprises and start-ups) to full commercial applications (corporations).”

While this mix presents its share of dilemmas, particularly the industry’s time-to-market needs against research schedules, the opportunities far outweigh them from Pinar’s vantage point:

“Professionals develop according to future needs. In particular, scientists take a target-oriented approach to future challenges and industry benefits from research to prove the feasibility and reduce risks in subsequent developments.”