25 years of DFS

Click here for the history of DFS in pictures.

1993

Historic signature: DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH was officially founded in October 1992. The photo shows the founding Managing Director of DFS, Dieter Kaden (second from the right), at the signing of the notarised documents that set up the company. On 1 January 1993, the Federal Administration of Air Navigation Services, which had controlled air traffic in Germany for over 40 years, passed the baton to its successor organisation DFS. DFS was set up as a private limited company.

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1994

DFS Managing Director, Dieter Kaden (in the middle, standing), with the Managing Director Engineering, Peter Waldinger (at the front, standing), visiting the control centre in Berlin Tempelhof. The control centre opened in November 1994.

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1995

Training of air traffic controllers at the Air Navigation Services Academy in Langen, near Frankfurt.

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1996

The Karlsruhe control centre was renovated and expanded. DFS provides air traffic control in the upper airspace of Germany from this control centre.

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1997

The Auersberg radar station was equipped with new technology. In 1995, DFS started a large-scale programme to modernise its radar facilities all over Germany. They provide air traffic controllers with information about the position of aircraft in German airspace.

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1998

1998 saw an architectural competition for the construction of the new DFS Headquarters, which was won by the Frankfurt-based architects KSP Engel und Zimmermann. The headquarters moved from their previous location in Offenbach to Langen, where DFS already operated a control centre and a training academy for air traffic controllers. The photo shows the ground-breaking ceremony.

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1999

Shortly before Christmas of 1999, the P1/ATCAS system went into operation at the Langen control centre. Many air traffic controllers dressed up to celebrate the occasion, which explains the bow ties – a stark contrast to the casual clothing normally worn by controllers.

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2000

The new DFS control tower at Leipzig Airport celebrated its grand opening. The Minister Presidents of Thuringia (Bernhard Vogel, left) and Saxony (Kurt Biedenkopf, in the middle) were special guests of honour.

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2001

DFS acquired the rights to a multi-radar tracker developed by a member of staff. This system, called PHOENIX, creates an air situation display from data supplied by radar facilities. It is now used as the fallback system at all DFS sites and sold around the world.

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2002

The control centre in Langen took over the control of air traffic previously provided by the control centre in Düsseldorf, which was then closed. One year later, a new control tower was opened in Düsseldorf — the tallest DFS tower at 85 metres.

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2003

A view of the operations room at the Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) in Frankfurt-Rödelheim. In 2003, this AIS Centre replaced the individual AIS stations at Germany’s international airports.

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2004

The European Parliament passed a regulation to establish a single European sky (SES) in 2004. This regulation set out a range of initiatives covering topics such as the establishment of national supervisory authorities, the harmonisation of air navigation technology and the specification of performance targets. SES also provided for the establishment of Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) in preparation for a single European sky. DFS joined with other neighbouring air navigation service providers to form FAB Europe Central (FABEC). It covers the airspace of Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

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2005

DFS set up a subsidiary, The Tower Company, to offer air navigation services at regional airports. The German legislator had decided to allow competition at smaller airports. Dortmund Airport was the first of many of the busiest regional airports to choose The Tower Company to provide its services. In the meantime, DFS has reorganised its commercial business. DFS Aviation Services GmbH was set up in 2017 and controls the air traffic at nine regional airports.

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2006

The 2006 Football World Cup boosted air traffic to Berlin. Tempelhof Airport experienced its busiest period ever. Two years later, the airport, which is steeped in aviation history, was closed.

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2007

In 1997, DFS controlled more than two million flights in German airspace for the first time. The diagram shows the flight tracks for a single day. The green lines represent descending aircraft; red ones show climbing aircraft. The blue lines are flights at a constant altitude.

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2008

The DFS Air Navigation Services Academy celebrated its 20th anniversary. The building houses training facilities for air traffic controllers as well as for the German Meteorological Service.

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2009

The Federal Supervisory Authority for Air Navigation Services (BAF) was founded. The photo shows the Director of the BAF (Nikolaus Herrmann, on the right), with the then Federal Minister for Transport (Wolfgang Tiefensee, middle) and the Director-General of Civil Aviation and Aerospace at the Federal Ministry for Transport (Thilo Schmidt).

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2010

In April 2010, a volcanic eruption in Iceland crippled air traffic across Europe. The volcano Eyjafjallajökull spewed out large amounts of volcanic ash into the air that was driven towards Europe by the wind. As the ash contained fine and extremely hard particles that posed a hazard to aircraft engines, many countries temporarily closed their airspace. German airspace was also affected, including Munich Airport (photo). Over the course of only one week, more than 100,000 flights were cancelled across Europe.

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2011

The CEO of Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr, the Minister President of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, and the then CEO of DFS, Dieter Kaden (from left to right) at the grand opening of the new DFS control tower at Frankfurt Airport.

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2012

Air traffic controllers started work at the new DFS control tower that was opened on schedule to coordinate with the original scheduled opening of the new Berlin Airport (BER) in 2012. From their perch, they control the air traffic at Berlin Schönefeld Airport – and have a wonderful view of the new terminal building which is still under construction. The new airport is now scheduled to open in autumn 2020.

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2013

The Supervisory Board of DFS approved the Remote Tower Control project. The objective is to control the traffic at smaller airports from a centralised remote location. Cameras and infrared sensors supply air traffic controllers with the information they need about the traffic situation. The photo shows a prototype of such a working position. The remote tower centre will be located in Leipzig. Gradually, the control of air traffic at Saarbrücken, Erfurt and Dresden is to be transferred there.

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2014

DFS was awarded the contract for the provision of air navigation services at London Gatwick Airport. Its subsidiary, Air Navigation Solutions Ltd, took over from the UK air navigation service provider NATS in the spring of 2016. London Gatwick is the busiest single-runway airport in the world. During peak times, up to 950 aircraft take off and land each day. From 1 April 2018, Air Navigation Solutions will also control air traffic at Edinburgh Airport.

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2015

Unmanned aircraft have become an increasingly important topic at DFS. In 2015, DFS – in cooperation with Lufthansa Aerial Services and Fraport AG, the operator of Frankfurt Airport – tested the use of a remotely piloted camera drone. In the following year, DFS started a joint project with Deutsche Telekom. The goal is to develop a traffic management system for unmanned aircraft. The drone's position data is transmitted via the mobile network and displayed on an air situation display using a tracker developed by DFS. The photo shows DFS CEO Klaus-Dieter Scheurle at a technology conference on drones organised by DFS.

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2016

DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH and the German Bundeswehr signed a cooperation agreement on military air traffic services training. A subsidiary, Kaufbeuren ATM Training GmbH, was set up especially for this purpose. It started to train military air traffic services personnel in Kaufbeuren, Bavaria, on 1 January 2017. DFS is investing EUR 18 million to build a new training centre and residence halls. The photo shows the ground-breaking ceremony: from left to right: Bernhard Pohl, member of the Bavarian State Parliament, Stefan Bosse, Mayor of Kaufbeuren, State Secretary Franz Josef Pschierer, DFS CEO Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, State Minister Dr Marcel Huber and Joachim Keck of Kaufbeuren ATM Training.

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2017

DFS uses iCAS, the cutting-edge air traffic control system, at its Karlsruhe control centre. Since November 2017, traffic in upper airspace has been controlled by iCAS. It is a European joint development aimed at standardising air traffic control systems. This does not only apply to Europe; the systems at DFS also need to be standardised. Over the next few years, the system will be introduced at all DFS control centres for lower airspace.

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