Hamburg and Montréal, two of the world’s largest aviation regions, have launched an official cooperative research and development program. Over the next three years, the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ) will team up with the aeronautical research center of Hamburg ZAL to conduct joint research on quieter aircraft cabins and new flame retardant composite fiber components. A total of 20 partners are involved in transatlantic cooperation, including companies of various sizes, universities and research institutes from Germany and Canada.

Modern aircraft are not only quieter than their predecessors; they are also lighter and therefore significantly more cost-efficient. According to the project partners, one essential reason for this is the increased deployment of lightweight composite fiber materials to replace the much heavier metals used in aircraft construction. For this research project, Hamburg and Montreal will seek to optimize current production methods of composite materials for aircraft cabins. The partners want to test new material combinations for their suitability in production and for flammability. The goal is to make composite materials used in aircraft even safer, environmentally friendlier, and lighter.

Another issue the partners seek to address is aircraft noise. Today, the noise level in an aircraft cabin is similar to that on a busy motorway. The engines themselves are getting quieter and quieter, but noise and vibration continue to be transferred to the inside of the aircraft via the outer skin of the fuselage, particularly at take-off. The performance limits of conventional insulating material such as glass wool and foam have long since been reached. As a next step, German and Canadian researchers want to investigate the potential of new sound-absorbing insulation – so-called acoustic metamaterials – as a standard approach to in-flight noise reduction. Test sites will include the Acoustics Lab at Hamburg’s ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research; the research infrastructure at this facility amongst the most extensive in Europe.

Overall, the project aims to combine the competencies on both continents in the development of innovative new products. The program is part of the New High-Tech strategy of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and is receiving government and commercial funding from both Germany and Canada. A total of 12 million euros in funding is being provided for the program between now and 2021, with each country contributing 50 percent. The money is also being contributed in equal measures by government and commercial sponsors.