Working on sustainable innovations
Research and development
We are a technology leader in aviation—and it is our extensive research work and a high level of innovation that keep us in this top position. With our research and development activities, we want to implement innovative and sustainable solutions that strengthen our competitiveness and secure our business. Ultimately, all MTU’s stakeholders benefit from this—above all our customers, employees and shareholders.
We are committed to the principle of integrated environmental protection, which takes a precautionary approach to how the company’s products impact the environment and integrates insights from this into entrepreneurial decisions. This applies above all to our research and development work. In the technology and innovation process, our experts investigate environmental and societal driving forces for aviation and take them into account when defining MTU concepts and targets. We receive input for our analyses and stakeholder expectations through various channels as part of our stakeholder dialog, which we conduct on an ongoing basis with all stakeholders. → More about stakeholder dialogue
Our contribution to SDGs 9, 12, 13 and 17
With our sustainable product solutions, we support several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 9 on “Industry, innovation and infrastructure,” SDG 12 on “Responsible consumption and production,” SDG 13 on “Climate action,” and SDG 17 on “Partnerships for the goals.” A secondary objective of SDG 9 calls for research and development to be expanded by 2030. We conduct intensive research and development work with numerous specialists in the company and in collaboration with universities and research institutions. In 2020, we invested EUR 186 million in solutions for tomorrow and beyond.
Comprehensive management for unlocking innovation
An Innovation Board regularly discusses all topics related to technology and innovation and initiates technology projects and studies. The Technology steering committee, of which the Chief Operating and Chief Program Officers are also members, approves MTU’s technology roadmap and is regularly updated on progress and the course of the projects. MTU manages its product development in a multistage technology and innovation process. Short-term product development is oriented toward concrete customer specifications on the basis of existing technologies. In the medium term (up to 15 years), we will create advanced product designs and derive technology requirements from them. And over the long term (up to 2050), our engineers will use a technology radar to develop pilot concepts and initiate the development of enabling technologies. The basis of this technology process is our culture of innovation, which we cultivate with a variety of initiatives. These include a Group-wide innovation management concept, the Inno Lab and Ideation Challenges through which we gather and evaluate ideas from employees related to a specific field of innovation.
In the reporting year, we again invested heavily in sustainable innovation: our investment in research and development (R&D) in 2020 totaled EUR 186 million (2019: EUR 214 million). With our R&D activities, we lay the groundwork for the future of aviation; for a long time now, as much as 90% of our investment in R&D has been targeted at reducing emissions. Our long-term focus is on emissions-free flight and, in particular, on the WET engine and the flying fuel cell. Alongside this R&D work and technology studies for future engine generations, the geared turbofan programs and their further improvement were high on MTU’s agenda in 2020, as was the GE9X engine for the Boeing 777X. We currently have around 150 technology projects in the research pipeline. Our teams bring together bright minds from fields as diverse as acoustics, fuel cells, 3D printing and bionics. We file over 400 patent applications every year, which also puts us in an excellent position.
Investing in a green future: One focus of our research and development work is emissions-free flight and, in particular, hydrogen and flying fuel cells. The EUR 186 million we invested in research and development in 2020 amounted to just under 5% of our revenue.
Strong research network
To sustain MTU’s technological expertise, it is important to be adequately plugged into the research landscape. We maintain a network of some 100 universities, research institutions, and companies around the world. → MTU’s research network MTU is involved in major German (Lufo) and European research programs (such as Clean Sky) that push the development of ecologically efficient engine technologies for aviation. These programs bring together researchers from a wide range of manufacturers and universities.
We have access to a strong network of universities, research institutions and companies and participate in important aviation research programs.
In addition, we cooperate directly with numerous universities and research institutions and maintain several centers of competence at selected German universities, which are devoted to specific research topics. Read more in the chapter → Corporate social responsibility