NLR conducts research for various ministries: the Ministries of Infrastructure and the Environment, Economic Affairs, Defence, and Education, Culture and Science. The research it conducts for the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment focuses on aircraft use, air traffic control, the environment, safety, and satellite navigation. NLR has major facilities to its disposal, such as the NARSIM tower and radar simulator, noise simulators and flight simulators. Such facilities play an important role in seeking solid answers to questions raised by society. NLR and other technological institutes were originally founded to support society and to create a bridge between fundamental research and practical applications. For this reason NLR’s added value is not only to be judged in terms of the needs of government, but also in terms of the needs of the aviation sector and broader society. The coherence of various topics is becoming increasingly important. It is good to have an institute that can offer insight into this coherence.
Developments in aviation are increasingly taking place on a European and global scale. The Netherlands no longer produces commercial aircraft, but aircraft manufacturers in the country enjoy growing status as suppliers in the areas of development, design, parts and components. Developments in air traffic control increasingly have a European basis (SESAR), with a strong link to the United States (Next Gen). Drones are at the beginning of their lifecycle and have been received enthusiastically in the Netherlands, where the focus is on smaller craft and commercial deployment. NLR is actively involved in each and every one of these fields. The Dutch government, as well as the EU and even the FAA, have commissioned NLR to carry out a series projects for such developments.
Through its research assignments, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment stimulates cooperation between NLR and industry. For instance, in the development of continuous descent landings, in which NLR is actively involved together with operators and the airport. The same goes for developments in the field of air traffic management (ATM) as part of the Single European Sky programme. The Knowledge & Development Centre at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was established for ATM research, ensuring optimum cooperation between companies, research institutes and governement. This creates a Golden Triangle for the aviation industry, involving government, industry and knowledge centres. NLR plays a crucial role in this triangle, as a supplier of expertise. Similarly, the ministry’s vision for 2030, in which NLR plays a central role, aims to facilitate cooperation between government, industry and knowledge institutes.
NLR serves as a pivotal knowledge institute for our knowledge development in the field of aviation. Because it is independent, NLR is in a position to develop knowledge worldwide and then bring it back to the Netherlands. This is beneficial to our government and to broader society. We expect NLR to be in the vanguard of developments in the field of aviation, so that in good time, we can formulate a policy to coordinate such developments. We need a solid knowledge foundation to develop such policy, and NLR plays an important role in this regard.