The German Aerospace Center DLR and Dassault Aviation have signed an agreement for the acquisition of a Falcon 2000LX jet. The agreement was signed during the Berlin Air Show in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The agreement provides for the delivery of a Falcon 2000LX and its transformation into an in-flight Systems and Technology Airborne Research vehicle (iSTAR) capable of testing the flight characteristics of new aircraft, real or virtual, piloted or not, under real operating conditions. In addition, iSTAR will serve as a test bed for aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, structures, propulsion, flight controls and flight guidance applications. Describing a special partnership, DLR’s Chairwoman Pascale Ehrenfreund says, “Dassault gives DLR access to its in-house development know-how and extensive aerodynamic experience. The 2000LX has the performance and safety margins we need for a research vehicle and greatly enhances our ability to conduct interdisciplinary research across the entire aviation system.”

The Falcon 2000LX being acquired is a development aircraft that has been used by Dassault for flight test and development purposes. It will be transferred to the Bordeaux-Mérignac site for a first conversion into a conventional flight test rig that will be operational by 2020. The jet will then be returned to Dassault for two further conversions to reach the full capacity of the iSTAR test rig. These phases are to be completed by mid-2020, as Rolf Henke, DLR board member, points out, “The iSTAR vehicle will provide DLR with flight simulation capability. It is a powerful tool for evaluating the flight characteristics of newly designed aircraft configurations under realistic conditions. It will greatly facilitate the development of new aircraft configurations and components that are efficient and environmentally friendly. In addition, it will enable in-flight evaluation of increasingly automated pilot assistance systems, including for taxi and take-off manoeuvres, and will improve unmanned aerial vehicle testing and integration into controlled airspace. “

The full-capacity iSTAR vehicle will be equipped with additional control surfaces, an experimental digital flight control system and other equipment, including an EASy II with EFVS intuitive cockpit, a Rockwell Collins head-up display and the Dassault Falcon Sphere II electronic flight suite.  Once transformed, the Falcon 2000LX will be based at the DLR site in Braunschweig, Germany, and will be made available to other national and European research institutes, as well as aircraft manufacturers and suppliers.