More freedom in German airspace

The customers of German air navigation service provider, DFS, have been able to use free route airspace (FRA) since Thursday, 1 March. FRA makes additional direct route options available at high altitudes – this saves on aircraft fuel and reduces emissions.

01.03.2018.- In the night of Wednesday to Thursday, DFS completed the first implementation step of DFS free route airspace. This new concept replaces the existing airway route network, thus enabling shorter, and therefore fuel-saving and emission-saving, flight routes. Since midnight, FRA has been available in large portions of upper airspace in Germany.

More flexibility for complex air traffic
As part of the FABEC free route airspace project, DFS is taking a significant step towards complying with the European Pilot Common Project regulation. This regulation aims to offer airspace users even more efficient and thus cost- and environmentally-friendly flight routes. On average, the flight-plan route length is reduced by approximately three nautical miles per flight. "These new flight planning options will contribute to significant and sustainable reductions in both costs and greenhouse gases" according to Andreas Poetzsch, Director Control Centre division. "DFS is delighted that the European Union is supporting this project."
"The introduction of free route airspace into DFS operations is an important step towards giving airspace users in the heart of Europe more freedom to choose their own flight routes in line with their business models. And this despite the fact that German airspace is one of the most complex in the world," said Razvan Bucuroiu, EUROCONTROL Network Manager. "The Network Manager is working closely with DFS and its neighbours to advance FRA. We're just starting with cross-border FRA, which in the future will lead to pan-European free route airspace."

Free route airspace throughout Europe
DFS is a strong supporter of FRA at the European level. "Customer orientation is important for the successful implementation of free route airspace, especially across borders. This is ensured by close coordination with our partners, especially the service providers in the Functional Airspace Bock Europe Central (FABEC), EUROCONTROL Network Manager and the SESAR Deployment Manager. We have to make sure that customers are able to work with free route airspace and take advantage of the new opportunities," stated Dr Morten Grandt, project manager of the DFS Free Route Airspace project. For DFS customers, the timely provision of the necessary information was crucial. "To ensure a smooth transition, the focus at the DFS control centre in Karlsruhe was on supporting the airlines and those preparing their flight plans in the last few days before the cutover," explained Steffen Liebig, head of the control centre.

Three control centres involved
Free route airspace is available around the clock in the airspace over northeast Germany above an altitude of nine kilometres. Karlsruhe control centre is in charge of this airspace. In the more complex airspace over western and southern Germany, the use of free route airspace is initially limited to night-time hours (23:30 to 05:00 local time). These times will be extended at the end of 2019.
The DFS control centres in Bremen and Munich are also involved in FRA implementation to the extent allowed by current technology. The Bremen control centre, responsible for the northeast of Germany, offers additional direct route options at night for flights above 7.5 kilometres. The Munich control centre offers such direct route options around the clock in the southeast and south of Germany.


DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,400 employees. DFS ensures the safe and punctual flow of air traffic over Germany. Around 2,000 air traffic controllers guide up to 10,000 flights in German airspace every day, about three million movements every year. The company operates control centres in Langen, Bremen, Karlsruhe and Munich as well as control towers at the 16 international airports in Germany. Its subsidiary DFS Aviation Services offers products and services related to air traffic management worldwide and provides air navigation services at nine German regional airports as well as at London Gatwick Airport in the UK.