15. March 2023 | Press releases:

Inaugural lecture by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sebastian Heimbs Aviation of the future with hydrogen and batteries? But safely! Research for the safety of tomorrow's aircraft under crash and impact loads

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sebastian Heimbs, Institute of Aircraft Design and Lightweight Structures at Technische Universität Braunschweig, gives his inaugural lecture “Luftfahrt der Zukunft mit Wasserstoff und Batterien? Aber sicher! Forschung für die Sicherheit der Flugzeuge von morgen bei Crash- und Impactbelastungen“ (Aviation of the future with hydrogen and batteries? But safely! Research for the safety of tomorrow’s aircraft under crash and impact loads) on

Wednesday, 22 March 2023, 5.00 pm,
Lecture hall SN 19.1, Historic Main Building, Schleinitzstr. 19, 38106 Braunschweig.

Sustainable and climate-neutral aviation of tomorrow within the framework of ambitious EU climate protection goals is currently the subject of research at countless universities and research centres. Emission-free flying by means of battery-electric drives or liquid hydrogen is typically the focus here. New aircraft concepts with different arrangements of hydrogen tanks or batteries for applications ranging from flying short-haul air taxis to long-haul aircraft appear almost daily around the world. These studies are often disruptive, that is, they leave the well-trodden paths of the tube-like aircraft fuselage with conventional wing and engine arrangement. A large part of these innovative research concepts leave out the safety requirements and thus greatly reduce the practical relevance. And in particular in the event of an emergency landing or unforeseeable hazardous situations caused by impacting projectiles. The official aviation certification of an aircraft for passenger transport from air taxi to long-haul aircraft requires proof of safety, structural integrity and possible evacuation in defined crash load cases, including safe emergency landing in impact load cases caused by birds, tyre parts, engine parts or other projectiles. Hydrogen tanks and batteries under aircraft crash and impact loads as well as their protection and safety open up completely new questions and challenges and an immense need for research. Only the solution of these questions will enable a certifiable, climate-neutral aviation of tomorrow.

TU Braunschweig is positioning itself as a pioneer and trend-setter in this new field of research. The inaugural lecture is dedicated to this topic and shows the significant differences to conventional aircraft with jet fuel tanks. It places the topic in the overall research strategy of the Institute of Aircraft Design and Lightweight Structures and addresses technological approaches and solutions to these challenges, from the development of new crash energy absorber concepts to new efficient, AI-based calculation and optimisation methods and technology demonstration by means of scaled crash tests. In this context, new large-scale research equipment for the short-term dynamic mechanical characterisation of materials and joints, for crash tests and for high-velocity bombardment tests by bird strikes or other safety-threatening projectiles will also be presented.

About the person

Sebastian Heimbs studied Mechanical and Process Engineering at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern with a semester abroad in Sweden. He completed his doctorate with distinction at the TU Kaiserslautern in the field of material and damage modelling of fibre composite sandwich structures under short-term dynamic crash loading. Since 2004, he has worked for the aerospace company Airbus (formerly EADS), initially in corporate research in Hamburg and later in Ottobrunn near Munich. He worked in many national and international research projects on lightweight structures in aviation as a researcher and project manager. In 2012, he took over the management of the transdivisional R&T group “Structures Engineering & Integration” and was appointed group-wide expert for dynamic structural simulations shortly afterwards. In 2017, he took over the management of the transnational centre for dynamic structural analyses of the Airbus civil aircraft division in Hamburg, which was entrusted with the crash safety concepts for the certification of all aircraft programmes, such as the current Airbus A350 or A321XLR. In 2021, he was appointed Professor of Aircraft Design at Technische Universität Braunschweig. Today, he heads the Institute of Aircraft Design and Lightweight Structures (IFL) and is involved in basic and applied research and teaching on topics of lightweight materials, multiphysical simulation and new structural designs, including technology demonstration on the ground and in the air for the sustainable and safe aviation of tomorrow.