Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

The research group UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) at the Institute of Aircraft Design (IFB) is engaged in the development and flight testing of experimental UAV and payload systems.

In previous projects, the research group was mainly involved with free-flight measurements, airborne imaging and spectral analysis of agricultural land. In the free-flight measurements, especially the dynamical characteristics of the UAV were investigated. Using a scaled 1:4 model of the DA40-V1 eg investigation of scaling effects and their applicability are examined on the original. With these contexts, a way should be found that allows to transmit the knowledge, which were determined using a scaled model to the original. In practice, there is a vast field of application for the different UAV classes because they are often superior to manned aircraft in economic terms, due to their flexible and low cost usability. Possible scenarios as they were already partially examined on the IFB, the safety of buildings, security of infrastructure, control of transport routes, mapping, imaging, …

The topic of the unmanned aircraft represents a summarize-faceted field of research which combines different engineering disciplines. The IFB offers expertise in several areas:

  • Design and construction of UAVs
  • Avionics development
  • System integration
  • Professional flight and test planning and execution

Through its years of experience in aircraft design and construction, the institution is also able to realize unconventional UAV concepts. Biggest realized UAVs are:

The Airbus Demonstratormodell "VELA2" was one of the first projects of the department and is the realization of a Blended Wing Body (flying wing). It is used for scaled free-flight measurements to study the flight-dynamic similarity analysis. The demonstrator has a wingspan of 3.30 m and is powered by a turbine engine. The development of the structure and the avionics was realized by the IFB.

NACRE (New Aircraft Concept Reaserch) was the largest UAV project at the IFB. The goal of the research program funded by the European project FP6 was to development of a research drone for examining different aircraft configurations. The resulting UAV has a wing span of 4.16 m, a maximum takeoff weight of 145 kg and is powered by two JetCat turbines with 440 N of thrust. The IFB developed a modular system design, which includes the complete avionics system, including a proprietary autopilot system and the integrated measuring system for free-flight measurements. This system should support different configurations of wings, engines, etc. With this possibility different configurations should be investigated and compared with conventional aircrafts. As an example, the positioning of the engines on top of the fuselage is to mention the noise emission to reduce by take-off and landing on the ground.

The helicopter UAV "AMPAIRE 1 & 2" were developed in the BMBF project SOGRO (immediate rescue for major accident). The helicopter has a rotor diameter of 3 m and an official authorization to approximately 46 kg take-off mass. With its all-electric drive, for a helicopter of this size, it is in the German university research an innovative leap forward. Beside its innovative drive concept the helicopter is characterized through its autopilot system that allows an autonomous takeoff and landing operation, and automatic waypoint navigation. True to the motto "We lend your project wings" developed the research group at the Institute of Aircraft UAV unmanned aircraft that can fulfill their purpose perfectly. The UAV team is open every time for challenges in research and the development of conventional as well as unconventional innovative UAV types.

Current Projects


Energy reduction through mission-adaptive propellers and innovative recuperation approaches for distributed electric propulsion and wing tip propulsion systems

Project description

The eMission project aims to reduce the energy requirements of a zero-emission flight mission through two innovative technologies: mission-adaptive distributed propulsion and highly efficient recuperation propellers. Distributed electric propulsion (DEP) increases the lift of the wing and can be used for steering, reducing both wing and vertical stabilizer area, which in turn leads to a reduction in weight and drag. Wing tip propellers (WTP) positioned at the wingtips enable an increase in efficiency in cruise flight through positive interaction with the tip vortices. In order for the DEP advantages to be utilized in a real implementation, a solution to the "landing problem" is required: The increase in lift with DEP is directly associated with positive thrust of the DEP, which severely limits the high-lift potential in the landing approach with low total thrust. This problem can be solved by recuperating part of the propulsion system. The recuperating WTP decelerate the aircraft, increase the control authority and also feed the battery, while the DEP ensure the high lift by blowing on the wing. Another important finding from the previous project VELAN is that the propeller installation angle for DEP has a different optimum efficiency depending on the flight phase, which can be optimized by means of mission-adaptive DEP by tilting the wing. In the eMission project, the existing e-Genius-Mod research platform of the University of Stuttgart will be equipped with mission-adaptive DEP, recuperating WTP and an optimized wing in order to demonstrate the advantages of the proposed technologies in flight tests. Finally, the results will be transferred to regional aircraft. With recuperative propellers as a pioneering technology and with mission-adaptive DEP to increase efficiency, a significant operational advantage and incentive for electric aviation can be created.

  • Institute of Aircraft Design

  • Institute of Aerodynamics and Gas Dynamics

  • Institute of Flight Mechanics and Controls


Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action


May 2023 – April 2026


Frieder Saettele, M.Sc.



Air Mobility Initiative - Positioning and Guidance System

Project description

The AMI-PGS (Air Mobility Initiative - Positioning and Guidance System) project is exploring the advantages of using a local, GNSS-independent, radar-based positioning and guidance system in an e‑VTOL, in urban airspace (U-Space) and at the landing site (Vertiport). The focus of the investigations is on local, high-precision positioning for a landing system. For further applications that go beyond precise positioning, the system should serve as a basis for a higher degree of autonomy and increase the safety and efficiency of aircraft operations in urban environments.

With a subscale drone of the CityAirbus NextGen, the technology is to be investigated using realistic aircraft geometry and flight dynamics in a realistic environment.

Contribution of the IFB

The IFB is primarily involved in the design, construction and operation of the subscale drone, which includes the following topics:

  • Scaling investigations of the aircraft
  • Constructive system design of a modular flight test vehicle
  • Design of fail-safe avionics
  • Technical expansion and measurement system integration
  • Flight testing and execution of measurement flights
  • Evaluation of measurements
  • Airbus Urban Mobility GmbH
  • Droniq GmbH
  • Kymati GmbH
  • Kasaero GmbH
  • Technical University of Munich (TUM)
  • Institute of Flight Mechanics and Controls (IFR), University of Stuttgart

Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy


January 2023 – December 2025


Dipl.-Ing Dominique Bergmann
Marco Armbrust, M.Sc.


Flugphysikalische Analyse, Verifizierung und Übertragung aerodynamischer, aeroakustischer und flugmechanischer Aspekte verteilter elektrischer Antriebe zur Entwicklung energieeffizienter und leiser Konfigurationen


Optimized Data Acquisition for the Measuring Flow Conditions in Free Flight

Project description

The project Optimized Data Acquisition for the Measuring Flow Conditions in Free Flight (OptiDeV) combines the optimization of Air Data Measurement Systems with the evaluation of the scaled flight demonstrator e-Genius-Mod in its role as a "flying wind tunnel". For this purpose, Multi-Hole Probes (MHS) provided by the project partner Vectoflow GmbH are coupled with miniaturized, performant inertial and navigation sensors and tested during free flight conditions with regard to flight condition monitoring.

The aim is to penetrate the market for aerodynamic validation in the niche between CFD simulations and wind tunnel measurements on the one hand and to carry out free-flight tests in order to evaluate new technologies on the other. The concept of the "flying wind tunnel" enables testing new technologies on a scaled-down flight platform and thus operate both cost-effectively and with low risk. Especially in the overall context of reducing the environmental impact of the aviation industry, scaled flight demonstrator can contribute to the development process of new aircraft systems.

Contribution of the IFB

The research group unmanned aerial systems at the Institute of Aircraft Design (IFB) is responsible for the integration of the measurement technology, carrying out the flight campaign and evaluating the test data.

The MHP is integrated via an adapter on the wing and thus enables, among others, an undisturbed and precise measurement of the inflow during flight. An ultrasonic anemometer is installed parallel to the MHP as a reference for the in-flight measurement. In addition, a ground-based reference measurement is carried out using a LIDAR system (Light Imaging Detection And Ranging). The data from all measurement systems is recorded using an in-house developed data logger and subsequently synchronized among each other.

Finally, the data is evaluated with regard to the measurement accuracy of the MHP. In addition, the extent to which the measurement data from the MHP can be used for gust detection will be investigated.

Project partners

Vectoflow GmbH


Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (German aviation research program LuFo VI-2)


May 2022 – December 2024


Dipl.-Ing. Dominique Bergmann
Eskil Nussbaumer, M.Sc.
Sara Hijazi, M.Sc.

ICM autoKite

Basics of automated kite flight as a means of propulsion for Airborne Wind Energy systems in the maritime sector

Project description

The KITE GAS/FUEL SHIP exploits the high wind power densities of high-altitude winds on the open ocean to generate green energy using kite-propulsion-AWE-systems for operating electrolysers to produce green hydrogen without depending on energy from the green power grid. Reducing humanity's impact on climate change is a core challenge of our time. To achieve the goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2050, significant adjustments are necessary for each CO2-emitting sector. One effective method for decarbonisation is the use of green hydrogen. It can directly be utilized as a green energy source or be refined to higher grade e-fuels. Due to the large available area on the ocean, such a technology is highly scalable.

The ICM autoKite project provides the scientific background for the development of the kite-propulsion-AWE-system and its scaling by researching the following topics:

  • Methodology for preliminary kite design and scaling

  • Aerodynamic modelling and experimental characterization of highly flexible tethered wings

  • Controller design and system technology for automatic operation

  • Visual rope monitoring and lifecycle monitoring of fiber ropes

  • System simulation and optimization of the energy yield

Contribution of the IFB

The Institute of Aircraft Design develops a methodology for preliminary design and scaling of flexible kites, which includes following topics: 

  • Flight behavior due to kite properties (Airfoil, geometry, material, rope attachment points)

  • Load transfer of the ropes and control inputs (Controllability and shape change of the flexible structure)

  • Material and lightweight aspects

  • Scalability

  • Consideration of the sensor technology to be integrated

  • Institute of Aircraft Design (IFB)

  • Institute of Aerodynamics and Gas Dynamics (IAG)

  • Institute of Flight Mechanics and Controls (iFR)

  • Institute of Mechanical Handling and Logistics (IFT)

  • Stuttgart Wind Energy (SWE)



July 2021 – November 2024


State Ministry of Science, Research and Arts (MWK) Baden-Württemberg


Achim Kuhn, M.Sc.

Dipl.-Ing. Klaus Heudorfer

Completed Projects


Electric wing tip propulsion system for the development of energy-efficient and noise-reduced airplanes


Antriebskonzepte mit verteilten Antrieben werden zunehmend realistischer aufgrund der Verfügbarkeit effizienter elektrischer Motoren und Energiespeicher. Ein zentrales Element verteilter Antriebe sind Flächenendantriebe, welche aufgrund positiver Wechselwirkungen mit den Randwirbeln gegenüber konventionellen Anordnungen eine merklich geringere Antriebsleistung benötigen und synergetisch zur differentiellen Steuerung genutzt werden können. Hierzu gibt es einige Vorarbeiten, die jedoch wesentliche Fragestellungen offen lassen. Hier setzt das LuFo-Projekt ELFLEAN an, um folgende Fragen zu klären: Welche Leistungsgewinne können realistisch erwartet werden? Wie können Flächenendantriebe zur Steuerung und Regelung genutzt werden? Wie können Flächenendantriebskonzepte auf Flugzeuge der kommerziellen Luftfahrt übertragen werden? Um diese grundsätzlichen Fragen zu beantworten sind Untersuchungen im Bereich der Aerodynamik, der Flugsystemdynamik und der Flugzeugauslegung im interdisziplinären Verbund notwendig. Um die grundlegenden Ergebnisse des Vorhabens abzusichern werden neben Analysen und Simulationen auch Messflüge durchgeführt. Hierzu dient ein Versuchsmodell des Elektroflugzeuges e-Genius im Maßstab 1:3 mit modularem Aufbau.

Project partners
  • Institute of Aircraft Design, University of Stuttgart
  • Institute of Flight Mechanics and Control, University of Stuttgart
  • Institute of Aerodynamics and Gas Dynamics, University of Stuttgart

Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (Luftfahrtforschungsprogramm V)


2018 – 2022


Dipl.-Ing Dominique Bergmann

LIDAR Complex

Development of LIDAR technologies for the determination of wind filed structures regarding the optimization of the wind power utilization in mountainous and complex terrain

Content of the project
  • Measuring method in complex terrain

  • Wind field analysis and modelling

  • Transfer of the results into parameters for wind energy facilities

Contribution of the IFB
  • Development of the measuring system

  • Integration of the measuring system into UAV and flight tests

  • Wind measuring at wind energy facilities with UAV

  • Wind measuring in complex terrain with UAV

  • Measuring data evaluation

Project partners
  • Stiftungslehrstuhl Windenergie, Universität Stuttgart

  • Institut für Aerodynamik und Gasdynamik, Universität Stuttgart

  • Zentrum für Angewandte Geowissenschaften, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

  • Institut für Meteorologie und Klimaforschung – Atmosphärische Umweltforschung, Karlsruher Institut für Technology

  • Kenersys GmbH

  • Windreich AG

  • FGW e.V.


Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety


2012 - 2015


Dipl.-Ing Dominique Bergmann
Dipl.-Ing Jan Denzel


Instant rescue at big accidents with masses of casualties

Project description
  • Improvement of the effectiveness during rescue operations of the emergency services at big accidents

  • New triage system

  • Design of a continuous information chain from the accident site to the hospital by means of new information technologies

Contribution of the IFB

Basic Analysis for the use of UAV flight formations for the support of emergency services during large-scale emergencies

  • Design of the UAV systems and integration of the payload
  • Creation of guidelines for the operation of the UAV for testing purposes
  • Flight tests
Project partners
  • ATOS

  • Universität Paderborn

  • Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

  • Andres Industries AG

  • Deutsches Rotes Kreuz Frankfurt am Main


Federal Ministry of Education and Research


2009 – 2013


Dipl.-Ing Dominique Bergmann
Dipl.-Ing Jan Denzel


New Aircraft Configuration Research

Project description
  • Integration and Validation of technologies for the rating and development of new aircraft concepts

  • Development of a solution which is not limited to a certain aircraft concept, but is rather based on a generic aircraft component level (cabin, wing, body, propulsion) which allows the investigation on different new aircraft concepts

Contribution of the IFB
  • System design (modular)

  • Development of the avionics system for the IEP (Innovative Evaluation Platform)

Project partners
  • Airbus France S.A.S. FR
  • Airbus Deutschland GmbH DE
  • Airbus España S.L. ES
  • Airbus UK Ltd. UK
  • Alenia Aeronautica S.p.A. IT
  • Aircraft Research Association Ltd. UK
  • Centro Italiano Ricerche Aerospaziali S.C.p.A. (CIRA) IT
  • Dassault Aviation S.A. FR
  • Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR) DE
  • EADS Deutschland GmbH DE
  • Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) SE
  • IBK Ingenieurbüro Dr. Kretschmar DE
  • Integrated Aerospace Sciences Corporation O.E. (INASCO) GR
  • Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA) ES
  • Messier-Dowty Ltd. UK
  • MTU Aero Engines GmbH DE
  • Stichting Nationaal Lucht- en Ruimtevaart Laboratorium (NLR) NL
  • Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales (ONERA) FR
  • Projecto, Empreendimentos, Desenvolvimento e Equipamentos Cientificos de Engenharia (PEDECE) PT
  • Piaggio Aero Industries S.p.A. IT
  • Rolls-Royce Deutschland Ltd. & Co. KG DE
  • Rolls-Royce plc UK
  • Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) RU
  • Vyzkumny a Zkusebni Letecky Ustav, A.S. (VZLU) CZ
  • Trinity College Dublin IE
  • University of Greenwich UK
  • Technische Universität München (TUM) DE
  • Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH) SE
  • Politechnika Warszawska (Warsaw University of Technology) PL
  • University of Southampton UK

European Commission (FP6)


2005 - 2009


Dipl.-Ing Dominique Bergmann
Dipl.-Ing Jan Denzel


Team lead

This image shows Dominique Paul Bergmann

Dominique Paul Bergmann


Research Associate, Team lead Unmanned aerial systems

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