DFS highlights the issue of airspace violations

More than 80 cases reported this year

11.11.2013.- More than eighty airspace violations were recorded by DFS in the first nine months of this year alone. These were unauthorised entries into Class C and D airspaces and into the arrival and departure areas of the major German airports as well as above flight level 100. Other violations such as unauthorised flights into restricted areas were also recorded. Apart from the very high fines imposed by the Federal Supervisory Authority for Air Navigation Services (BAF), DFS would like to remind everyone of the hazards that can be caused by flying too close to airspace boundaries.

Class C and Class D airspaces were established to protect IFR traffic from unknown VFR traffic, thus preventing collisions and aircraft proximities.

The airspace in the vicinity of Germany's major international airports has a step-like structure with various lower limits which allows general aviation to avoid airspaces where air traffic control clearances are required. However, DFS studies have shown that many VFR pilots have often been flying as close as possible to these airspace boundaries, trying to use every last foot of available airspace. This presents a significant hazard when an aircraft finds itself in a slow and initially unnoticed climb and unintentionally flies into airspace that requires a clearance. This may happen due to changing wind and thermic conditions. In the past, pilots have also been distracted by navigation or radiotelephony and not noticed their slight change in altitude.

If DFS becomes aware of a violation – by a commercial pilot's TCAS report, for example – it is obliged to send a violation report to the Federal Supervisory Authority for Air Navigation Services (BAF). It is not within the discretion of DFS to decide which occurrences are reported or not. Unauthorised entries into these airspaces are punished as administrative offences. Fines of three- or four-digit figures may be imposed.

In addition to these financial consequences, there is the serious safety hazard of wake vortices caused by airliners. IFR flights are often guided to a level only 500 ft above the upper limit of Class E airspace and thus potentially quite close to a light aircraft. Even light aircraft flying lower than this may encounter another hazard that should not be underestimated. The hazard results from the fact that wake vortices do not just sink straight down but may also move sideways depending on the wind conditions. In addition, they may be present for minutes after the airliner is no longer in sight.

For this reason, DFS recommends that VFR flights in Class E airspace pay special attention to IFR traffic, take avoiding action early on and give airliners a wide berth. DFS provides flight information service (FIS) that can be helpful in such cases.

For more information and graphics (airspace structure with aircraft), please contact Nanda Geelvink (Public Relations)
nanda.geelvink@dfs.de, Telephone: +49 (0)6103 707 4164

DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law and has 6,000 employees. DFS ensures the safe and punctual flow of air traffic over Germany. Staff coordinate up to 10,000 aircraft movements in German airspace every day, and about three million movements every year. This makes Germany the country with the highest traffic volume in Europe. DFS operates control centres in Langen, Bremen, Karlsruhe and Munich. In addition, DFS is represented in the Eurocontrol Centre in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and in the control towers of the 16 international German airports. DFS provides training and consultancy services around the world and develops and sells air traffic management systems. The company's portfolio also comprises flight-relevant data, aeronautical publications and aeronautical information services. DFS has the following business units: Control Centre, Tower, Aeronautical Solutions and Aeronautical Information Management.