The Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) has been located on the Technology Base since the start of this year: a business campus with Twente Airport, among others. The institute does research into cleaner, safer and quieter aviation. Oost NL, supported by the province of Overijssel, played a facilitating role in NLR’s establishment in Twente. “We expect that a player like NLR will attract other aviation-related companies.”
Innovation still has a big role to play in the aviation industry; the sector needs to become drastically more sustainable to be climate neutral by 2050. New technologies and materials can help with that. Experimentation and testing programs are needed to test these new technologies, which cannot be carried out at regular airports.
NLR’s decision to open an office in Twente can be explained through a combination of factors. The runway in Twente is exceptionally long by Dutch standards, and there is room for conducting certain tests and test flights because the airport does not offer regularly scheduled flights. “That makes it unique in the Netherlands”, says Roland Slager, Business Manager at NLR. In addition, according to Slager, there are several companies in Twente that are already working together on making aviation more sustainable from the perspective of the national ecosystem. “The combination of such a unique airport and the associated companies in the eastern Netherlands offer the NLR great future prospects.”
Touching down in the region
Bart van ’t Ende, Tech Project Manager at Oost NL supported NLR in establishing valuable contacts in the region. It helps that Oost NL has been facilitating cooperation in the aviation-related industry for years, both in the region and beyond. The arrival of NLR is good news for the region, according to Van ‘t Ende: “We believe that the establishment of NLR in Twente will have a positive impact and that it will make Twente even more attractive for other companies involved in aerospace technology.”
Van ‘t Ende foresees an opportunity for the region to further profile itself on the future of aviation: “Many new forms of aviation are coming our way. Anything you might need for innovating in aviation can be found here. Companies and research institutes can immediately test their innovations in practice. Moreover, there are companies and knowledge institutions around Twente Airport and in the region that have a link to the aviation industry. We expect that, in time, this will greatly contribute to making aviation more sustainable.”
Excellent for innovation and testing
NLR carries out test programs for a wide range of clients, making it the ideal partner for Technology Base and Twente Airport to convert opportunities into results. Conversely, NLR is interested in the opportunities that Twente Airport offers. “The well-maintained and long runway, the large open space, the airspace and, above all, the strategic location make Twente Airport unique in the Netherlands”, says Slager. “The airport is excellent for testing, validating, and certifying improved aerodynamic shapes, innovative materials, alternative propulsions, new ground infrastructures and flight procedures. We are conducting tests on approach flights as part of the European DREAMS project, for example.”
Technology Base hopes that more companies will follow by entering into an intensive collaboration with the NLR research center. “Our airport wants to act as a breeding ground for more sustainable aviation”, says Technology Base director Jan Schuring.
Watch the video below for an explanation of last year’s flights for DREAMS at Twente Airport.