About us – history of SFL GmbH
Originally established in 1995 as the Steinbeis-Transferzentrum für Aerodynamik, Flugzeug- und Leichtbau (STZ-AFL) (Steinbeis Transfer Center for Aerodynamics, Aircraft Engineering and Lightweight Construction) as part of the Steinbeis Foundation, we became the Steinbeis Flugzeug- und Leichtbau GmbH (Steinbeis Aircraft Engineering and Lightweight Design GmbH) at the end of 2007. Prof. Rudolf Voit-Nitschmann was the founder and executive partner of SFL GmbH. As a result of his vast experience in senior management in the aerospace industry, the needs of both large and medium-sized companies are well-known to him. The most outstanding projects during the 35 years of his professional carrier are: Speed Canard (a single-engine canard aircraft), Eurotrainer, Grob G-150T and during his time with Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH his involvement in the A300-600 Beluga project as well as the Do 328. During his research work at the University of Stuttgart pioneering work was carried out under his supervision on the solar aircraft icaré and the electrically powered aircraft e-Genius.
Prof. Voit-Nitschmann was supported by Dipl.-Ing. Berthold Karrais who became a partner and associate since 1997. During his professional carrier Berthold Karrais has extensively worked on the design, certification and development of composite aircraft. The most important examples of his project work are the powered gliders Piccolo and Carat as well as numerous propeller designs for powered gliders, some of which have been patented.
In Juli 2015 Dipl.-Ing. Werner Scholz was appointed as Managing Director with the task of management and co-ordination of the various projects.
Werner Scholz was heavily involved in the solar aircraft project icaré and, before joining SFL GmbH, he held the post of chief designer at Rolladen-Schneider Flugzeugbau (LS gliders). He joined our engineering team in 2003. Werner Scholz has broad experience in aircraft design and certification.
In September 2018 the company became the SFL GmbH of today. Dipl.-Ing. Werner Scholz stayed as the now single CEO, wheras Prof. Voit-Nitschmann left the company and ownership was taken over by Leichtwerk Holding GmbH in Braunscheig. The company facilities in Stuttgart and the experienced team remained and since then the staff has been increased through new projects and the new partnership with Leichtwerk AG in Braunschweig.
The team members, experienced aerospace and electrical engineers and technicians, are in most cases also active pilots. Due to the close neighbourship, resources and test installations of the University may also be used by SFL GmbH, also allowing participation of SFL GmbH in joint research programmes with direct and sustainable technology transfer.
The medium-sized aviation industry in particular can only maintain its position in the world market by using state-of-the-art technology. Extensive development resources which, for economic reasons, cannot be constantly made available are also required to maintain the status quo. Mandatory type certification of aircraft, in particular, requires experienced staff and presents a major challenge. Even in large aviation companies, development activities are being increasingly outsourced in order to better cover peak demands and to keep permanent personnel numbers as low as possible.
This is the situation that our service portfolio addresses. We offer our clients extensive knowledge and capacities in the development of aircraft and lightweight components in fibre composite construction. Due to our extensive project experience we, as all-rounders, can support you during the entire development of aircraft in the CS 22, CS VLA, CS 23 and LSA categories as well as remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).
Particularly in industrial branches which have foregone the introduction of modern lightweight construction technology such as the use of fibre composite materials, there is a lack of trained and experienced staff. In these cases the Steinbeis- Flugzeug- und Leichtbau GmbH serves as a consulting centre and point of contact for the development of lightweight component prototypes and for the construction of milled production moulds.
Due to increasingly elaborate aircraft constructions, designs and certification processes as well as a growing demand in medium-sized mechanical engineering companies for lightweight constructions, interest in the transfer services of SFL GmbH has been growing steadily over the years.
Due to the specialist skills offered by SFL GmbH, it was assigned in 1996 by the Luftsportgeräte- Büro des Deutschen Aeroclubs (DAeC) as a compliance verification office for three-axis controlled microlight aircraft.
Last but not least, SFL GmbH has been representing European glider manufacturers at EASA since 2005 and maintains close contact to the air sport associations in Germany and Europe which are also affected by discussions between the authorities and aircraft manufacturers.
Employees have access to well-equipped offices and a prototype workshop, including an electronic laboratory. SFL GmbH maintains close contacts to experienced fibre composite manufacturers thus allowing new developments to be quickly integrated into serial production.