Hamburg’s new civil aviation research facility takes shape


One of the most modern research facilities for civil aviation in the world is currently under construction in Hamburg, a city that boasts a vibrant aviation cluster where Airbus A320 family aircraft are assembled, and where A320s and A380s are fitted with their cabin interiors.

The Center for Applied Aeronautical Research (ZAL) TechCenter in Finkenwerder – whose roof was added in a ceremony today – is a EUR 82.4 million project that is financed by a group of partners encompassing the entire spectrum of northern German aviation, including Airbus, Lufthansa Technik, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), all four major Hamburg universities, and 14 other players.

It will be home to 600 engineers and scientists as they develop innovative, industrially viable products for the aviation industry. These industry employees and academics will have access to high-end test rigs in six “technical domains”, including a fuel cell lab, fuselage and cabin test rigs, and one of the aircraft manufacturing industry’s largest acoustic laboratories.

Lukas Kirchner, who handles public relations and marketing for ZAL, tells RGN that the test rigs for cabin infrastructure in standard configuration will be Airbus-based (ranging from A320/A30X to A380), and Airbus has “booked” the layout exclusively for the first five years.

“The construction itself however will be flexible enough to be switched into any other layout, so if a customer wants to do cabin research e.g. with a 737 after these 5 years, we’ll be able to do it,” he notes.


The facility will also contain a virtual reality lab for 30 people, and a conference center including a 200-seat auditorium. An innovation market will allow tenants to put new developments on public display and let visitors try them out.

The full 25,000 sq m facility will open at the end of 2015. “ZAL will bring a sustained boost and focus to Hamburg’s international standing in civil aviation,” sayas ZAL managing director Roland Gerhards. “The fact that we have already rented out 80% of the available space more than a year before completion, and that our primary tenant, Airbus, has already committed itself for 10 years, shows very clearly how strongly our partners believe in the concept.”


Visitors will be able to enter the building either street-side (as seen here) or water side, above. So ultimately they can arrive by car or by ferry.