By David Kaminski-Morrow in London

German aerospace centre DLR is to use an Airbus A320 as an airborne laboratory from 2008, with its first test programme to focus on procedures, strategies and technologies to reduce noise. The A320 will also be used to investigate new cockpit displays, wake vortices and wing deformation.

The former civil airliner could have a role in the new European Union Clean Sky joint technology initiative and in experiments with new in-flight control techniques and the use of lasers to measure airflow.

“In the face of a growing volume of air traffic, the aim is to achieve lower noise and emission levels while simultaneously increasing the capacity of airports and air routes, and raising safety standards,” says DLR.

The agency adds that EADS, MTU and Rolls-Royce have all expressed interest in making use of the aircraft.

Airbus is converting the nine-year-old aircraft, previously owned by Austrian carrier Niki, into an airborne laboratory. Based at Braunschweig, it will replace DLR’s VFW 614 testbed. The agency’s fleet modernisation saw the acquisition last year of a Gulfstream G550 for climate research.

Source: Flight International