About RTI Aviation

A glimpse of the Austrian research and innovation landscape in the field of aviation

Between 1999 and 2015, Austria’s public and private sector invested approximately 400 mio Euros in research, technology and innovation projects in the field of aviation. Thereof, nearly 50 mio Euros were earmarked for transnational projects between Germany’s LuFo and Austria’s Take Off funding program.

It is evident that these investments positively impacted the development of the national economic sector and will play a crucial role in the future as well. 

This page focuses on Austria’s 15 years’ dynamic growth and the research, technology and innovation strategy for aviation published in 2015. In addition, the relaunched Austrian research and innovation funding program “Take Off 2015 - 2020” is introduced to offer a glimpse of existing research competencies and facilities. A short description of the Icing Wind Tunnel in Vienna – the world’s largest so far – rounds up the practical explanation.

Aeronautics Industry: Important Pillar for Austria’s Economy

Between 2009 and 2014, annual turnovers of the Austrian aeronautics (supply) industry increased from about 1.6 bn to 2.2 bn Euros (projected). This means a growth in sales of 40 percent in five years (cumulated). Furthermore, the number of skilled personnel increased to 13 percent aeronautics employees, 15 percent thereof in R&I.

R&I Landscape of Austria’s Aviation Sector

The economic significance of Austria’s aviation sector is a given. Considering both the air transportation sector (Airlines, ANSPs and Airports) and the aeronautics industry, Austria has 225 R&I intensive companies. In addition, there are about 40 academic and non-academic research institutes. As shown in Figure 1, all these stakeholders constitute the R&I intensive aviation sector in Austria. Moreover, an active supporting network of strategic partners such as the Austrian Aeronautics Industries Group as well as the Federal Chamber actively facilitate promotion activities.

The RTI Strategy for Aviation

At the beginning of 2014, BMVIT started a broad stakeholder consultation process in order to set up a new strategy for research, technology and innovation in the field of aeronautics and air transportation. Around 200 actors of the Austrian R&I sector, international experts, and representatives of the European Commission took part.

This strategy paved the way for implementing another five-year flagship funding program called Take Off. Until 2020, the ministry will provide the amount of 40 mio Euros of public funding.


In line with ACARE Flightpath 2050 goals, the new strategy promotes four measures to be deployed within the framework of a five-year action plan. These are:

  1. Build strategic partnerships;
  2. Strengthen Austria’s competencies and skills in R&I;
  3. Foster visibility and market uptake;
  4. Facilitate excellent qualification.

Each of these four measures contains a bundle of subordinated tasks to be carried out via public funding programmes and accompanying activities. In 2020, a comprehensive strategy evaluation will be conducted.

RTI Strategy for the Austrian Aviation Sector 2020 plus

Take Off – The Flagship Program

Between 1999 and 2015, 356 research projects with 881 partners were funded with a public and private budget of around 392 mio Euros. These projects offered 377 Austrian organisations the chance to extend their existing know-how in air transportation and aeronautics.

Based on this strategy, BMVIT relaunched a new research, technology and innovation program, Take Off 2015 – 2020, with focus on:

  • System Integration (Humans. Organisations. Technologies);
  • Strategic Partnerships (National. Transnational. International);
  • Capacity and Resource Creation (Traffic. Production. Staff);
  • Knowledge Development & Sharing (Topic. Process. Application).

The Programme is based on a master thesis in the field of knowledge creation. Take Off covers Austria’s wide range of technological competencies (see www.aeronautics.at) as detailed in terms of colour in Figure 2 below. Moreover, the program is open for innovative ideas, technological spill-overs and social innovation.


Best Practices for Aeronautics Research Infrastructures in Austria

The new icing facility for aircraft at the Climatic Wind Tunnel (CWT) Vienna was officially opened on March 3, 2014. Where rail and road vehicles have been tested under extreme climatic conditions, the aviation industry now also has access to a high performance Icing Wind Tunnel (IWT) for developing and certification tests. The facility can be used to test full-scale components, e.g. tail rotors and propellers of up to approx. 2m diameter installed on a helicopter or test rig, components on a rotorcraft fuselage, or air inlet components installed on a real running engine in icing conditions.

The IWT consists of a mobile icing rig which is placed into the large climatic wind tunnel for the icing tests. In this configuration, with a cross section of 8.75 m² to 16.1m², the tunnel is especially suitable for huge test objects. With the aid of an additional contraction nozzle, speeds from 10 m/s up to 80 m/s can be achieved. What makes the new Icing Wind Tunnel Vienna unique in Europe is its existing size and high cooling capacity that allow it to run engine tests up to 1800 HP under icing conditions between -30°C and -2°C. This allows critical ice accumulations on the engine inlets, rotors of helicopters or wing sections of small aircraft to be investigated under real flight conditions. Furthermore, cold start tests down to -45°C and snow tests can be carried out on components or complete helicopters. 


About the Authors

DI (FH) Ingrid Kernstock, MA

R&I Strategy for Aviation and Programme Owner Take Off
Federal Ministry for Transport, 
Innovation and Technology (BMVIT)
Radetzkystraße 2, 1030 Vienna

Hermann Ferschitz, MSc

Director Operation
Rail Tec Arsenal