Paris Air Show 2019

ONERA and DLR – joint research into AI for the aerospace sector

On 17 June 2019, during the 53rd Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, echoing the bilateral friendship treaty on cooperation and integration signed between Germany and France in January 2019, Bruno Sainjon, CEO of ONERA, signed together with DLR an agreement on their collaboration in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Over time, this cooperation could be used as a basis to establish a ‘virtual’ Franco-German AI research centre for the European aerospace sector.

Hansjörg Dittus, DLR Executive Board Member for Space
Research and Technology, Bruno Sainjon, CEO of ONERA,
Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board,
Rolf Henke, DLR Executive Board and responsible for
Aeronautics research

DLR and ONERA have defined five core topics for their joint research:

  • human-machine interaction and work sharing between Unmanned Aerial Systems (UA) and human operators
  • predictive maintenance using concepts such as digital twins or structural health monitoring that involve the development of smart vehicle structures that ‘sense’ damage, for example
  • automation within logistics and interactive robotics
  • intelligent flight control systems
  • new reconnaissance technologies

ONERA and DLR have been developing leading work in the field of Artificial Intelligence for many years now, the aerospace sector being a relevant framework for their application. The development of new learning techniques, in particular, the diversification of their fields of application, the need to master algorithms, their explicability, their implementation on new computer architectures, etc., motivate this cooperation at a European level to support innovation and industrial development in the aerospace sector even more effectively.


ONERA has been developing research on Artificial Intelligence techniques since the mid-1970s. Today, this work aims in particular to support the digital transformation of all sciences and technologies in the Aerospace and Defence sector. The technical fields of AI in which ONERA is particularly involved are: artificial perception, system autonomy and robotics, learning dynamic system models or behaviours for physical simulation and phenomenon prediction, logic and decision making.

Artificial intelligence within DLR

Artificial intelligence is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather enables task-oriented smart solutions for many current challenges. AI methods have been an important element of DLR research for many years and are being improved for numerous use cases within industry and society as a whole – among them Earth observation, robotics, energy research, the development of assistance systems for air or road traffic management, and automated driving.

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