German aerospace research centre DLR has established a simulation laboratory to develop virtual certificates for aircraft components.

Dubbed the Virtual Product House, the facility is part of the Center for Eco-efficient Materials & Technologies (Ecomat), a wider industrial and academic research campus opened by multiple stakeholders in Bremen in April.

DLR says the test lab will explore how simulation can improve aircraft development and manufacturing – and will concentrate in particular on achieving virtual certifications as a "long-term objective".

Projects will be conducted in co-operation with industrial partners and academic institutions, including Airbus and Munich-based aerospace testing facility IABG.

DLR A320 airflow simulation


Simulated turbulent airflow around DLR's A320-based research aircraft

Noting that the development and production of new aircraft entails high risks in terms of investment, technology and long-term commitment – especially when new technologies and unconventional aircraft concepts are being deployed. DLR says: "These high risks and long life and production cycles of aircraft are in contradiction to constantly required product improvements and thus the necessary capability to innovate."

Simulation is therefore becoming central to accelerate introduction of new technology and reduce associated risk in aircraft design, according to the research group.

The lab's initial project will concentrate on a multifunctional wing control surface.

Participants will examine the component's virtual design, testing, production and certification.

The integration of these steps will enable researchers to analyse and optimise what effect design changes can have on the overall process, DLR says.