The world of space and aviation meets at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2018

The ILA Berlin International Airshow is the highlight of the year for anyone with an interest in aviation and space technology. This year’s event took place from 25 to 29 April at the Berlin ExpoCenter Airport in Schönefeld, once again featuring all the most important topics for the future of aviation and space travel.

Over the five days of the event, 180,000 industry and public visitors experienced the fascinating world of aviation and aerospace at the ILA Berlin Air Show. Around 1,100 exhibitors from 41 countries displayed a plethora of research and development projects and current high-tech products over an area of 250,000 square metres. With the slogan of “Innovation and Leadership in Aerospace” the ILA, together with its partner country, France, once again visitors the chance to experience technical innovations and novelties in the field of aerospace.

ARTS has been a regular exhibitor at the ILA since as far back as 2008, and this year, the company was once again represented by two event stands. On the industry days, from 25 to 27 April 2018, ARTS exhibited its portfolio of engineering and manufacturing services on the shared stand of the BDLI (German Aerospace Industries Association), with a particular focus on current projects in the fields of Tool Management Services and MRO. At the ILA Career Center, ARTS provided information to visitors on the public days, 28 and 29 April 2018, about the wide range of career paths and opportunities that graduates, young professionals and experienced career professionals can pursue with ARTS.

An exciting programme of flight at the ILA

Around 200 aircraft of all shapes, sizes and eras could be seen, both in the air and on the ground. The stars of the Schönefeld show, alongside the world’s largest aeroplane, the Antonov AN-225 and Emirates’ Airbus A380 flagship, were the aerobatic display team of the Spanish Air Force, Patrulla Aguila, as well as the German Army with its Airbus A400M military transport aircraft.

Impressions of aircraft at the ILA 2018 Berlin Air Show

ILA Impressions

One of the premieres featured at the show was the Airbus A340 BLADE (Break-through Laminar Aircraft Demonstrator in Europe). The test aircraft is equipped with the wings of the future, with the right wing being made using traditional construction techniques, consisting of an outer shell joined to a metal leading edge. The construction of the left wing is significantly more complex: the leading edge and outer shell are each made from a single piece of carbon-reinforced plastic, thereby resembling those of a glider. Due to laminar flow, drag should be reduced by around 10%, consequently achieving fuel savings of around five per cent.

Airbus A340 BLADE: On the outer left-hand wing, the leading edges and outer shell are made from carbon-reinforced plastic.

Airbus A340 BLADE: On the outer left-hand wing, the leading edges and outer shell are made from carbon-reinforced plastic. 

This year’s flight of the A350 XWB was once again a spectacular event. This airliner has the highest proportion of carbon fibre materials in its fuselage and wing structure. The XWB designation stands for eXtra Wide Body, and the particularly wide fuselage of this long-haul, wide-body aircraft results in the capacity to carry over 300 passengers. Even as the aircraft was rolled onto the tarmac, the aircraft’s impressive size was clearly visible. The A350’s pilot then got the aircraft off the ground, demonstrating the A350 XWB’s manoeuvrability despite its size with a flight as smooth and elegant as a glider’s over the exhibition venue. The show lasted around 10 minutes before concluding with a gentle landing.


Airbus A350 XWB Show Flight at ILA Airshow 2018 - © Cargospotter

As the operator of the largest civilian research fleet, DLR was in attendance with an impressive number of research aeroplanes and helicopters. The largest member of its fleet is the Airbus A320-232 "D-ATRA" (Advanced Technology Research Aircraft). Thanks to ATRA, aviation researchers and co-operation partners have the ability to carry out research and development activities on aircraft in the fields of aerodynamics, avionics or cabin comfort.

DLR Airbus A320-232 research aircraft, D-ATRA, and research helicopters.

DLR Airbus A320-232 research aircraft, D-ATRA, and research helicopters.

Space for Earth – ILA Space Pavilion

Another particularly impressive feature of the exhibition was the unmissable signpost to the Space Pavilion: an 18-metre high, quarter-scale model of the Ariane 6-Trägerrakete launch rocket in front of the entrance. The Space Pavilion is a joint exhibition organised by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the businesses that make up the BDLI, the German Aerospace Industries Association.

18-metre high model of the Ariane 6 launch rocket at the entrance to the Space Pavilion.

18-metre high model of the Ariane 6 launch rocket at the entrance to the Space Pavilion.

In line with the theme “Space for Earth,” the exhibition focused on topics such as exploratory missions and manned space flight, as well as remote sensing, communications and navigation. The exhibits, some of which were genuine space artefacts, provided an insight into the world of aerospace research.

Impressions from the Space Pavilion

Impressions Space Pavilion

The DLR stand was a particular highlight of the Space Pavilion, where you could experience space travel at first hand. With engaging exhibits and research projects, DLR provided information about its missions as well as planned experiments on the ISS. One exciting project, for example, involved the CIMON (Crew Interactive MObile companioN) for astronauts. This assistant is planned to use artificial intelligence to support astronaut, Alexander Gerst, during his stay on the ISS. CIMON can see, talk, hear, and understand. Its outer shell was made entirely by using a 3D printing process. Equipped with sensors, camera, seven microphones and an IBM speech processor, it has been conditioned to Alexander Gerst’s voice and can relay information or instructions on scientific experiments and play and explain videos on repairs. Alternatively, it can simply play the astronaut’s favourite playlist. With a compact format and weighing five kilos, it can only fly through the space station very slowly: otherwise, the risk of collision would be too high. In the future, CIMON should become even lighter and be able to learn independently.

Replica of the mobile astronaut assistant, CIMON, in the Space Pavilion

Replica of the mobile astronaut assistant, CIMON, in the Space Pavilion

The DLR stand also featured the “Skin-B” exhibit. This is another experiment, which is designed to perform research into changes in astronauts’ skin during long-term missions under conditions of weightlessness. The skin is the largest human organ, and earlier NASA experiments have shown that the skin changes noticeably during an extended stay in space: it ages significantly more quickly than on earth. The skin becomes thinner and loses its ability to function as a barrier. The experiment involves recording the moisture content of skin cells with a sensor, and using a special camera to document the results. The measurements are not invasive and are taken several times daily on the astronaut’s forearm. The knowledge that is acquired can be used to develop appropriate counter-measures against these skin changes in the future in order to increase astronauts’ wellbeing during missions, as the skin regenerates completely after a recovery period on earth. The same goes for the “birdy legs” and the “puffy head,” whereby the correct proportions are restored after a year of resistance training . These are just two of a hundred experiments that are planned, and which Alexander Gerst will be involved with during his mission on the ISS in June.

Innovations on the ILA Future Lab Stand

Once again, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) hosted the Future Lab in Hall 2 this year, with a focus on the topics of digitalisation and disruption. In line with the exhibition’s focus on novelty, startups from four different fields presented their ideas and concepts. In the spotlight were networking and digitalisation inherent in Industry v4.0 with digital aviation. Exciting questions, such as how emissions can be reduced despite the increasing growth in the sector, were addressed in the field of ecological efficiency. Further pillars of the exhibit were disruptive innovation and competitiveness, as well as future issues for space travel.

This year, the Future Lab Forum received a refresh with a new format, addressing the major question of “How will we fly in the future? Will aviation become nearly emissions-free?” Leading representatives from China, Canada, Russia and the European Commission debated what the future of global research projects could look like.

We can only guess where this journey of innovation, research and development in the aviation and aerospace fields will take us. However, we can say with certainty that we, together with our customers, are already hard at work, implementing visionary technologies and products. This is because, wherever our customers need expertise that does not form part of their core business, ARTS is there to support them with turnkey, individual solutions, optimised processes and experienced specialists.

Our ARTS experts in Hall 2 and the ILA Career Center.

Our ARTS experts in Hall 2 and the ILA Career Center.

Sources: ILA Berlin | Flugrevue | DLR 

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