Drones for Germany’s East

September 2020

May 2021 will see the scheduled opening of the German Aerospace Center DLR’s National Testing Center for unmanned civilian aviation systems in Cochstedt. This eastern German town was chosen because it possessed an underused regional airport, which the DLR acquired in mid-2019.

“By bringing in the DLR, we have awakened Cochstedt from its hibernation,” said the science and economic minister of the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, Armin Willingmann. “What was only a moderately successful regional airport is becoming a beacon for future technologies that will be very interesting to start-ups.”

The German Aviation Association (BDL) estimates the worth of the German drone market to be over EUR 574 million, split between commercial (ca. EUR 404 million) and private drones (EUR 169 million). That puts Germany fourth in the world after the US, China and France. The BDL predicts that the number of drones in operation in Germany will increase from 500,000 at present to 850,000 by 2030 and that the proportion of commercially used drones will rise from one in 24 to one in six during that period.

The German government’s aerospace coordinator Thomas Jarzombek has high hopes for Cochstedt as a motor for growth.

“The federal government sees the opportunities that result from the future-oriented markets of civilian drones and urban air mobility,” he said. “We want to give companies, particularly start-ups the chance to participate in this new high-tech market. With the testing center, we want to lay the foundations for getting drone applications out of the laboratory and into the field. We also hope to give a boost to the region.”

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