Our glossary contains frequently used terms and acronyms together with their explanations.

Working in a control centre

The German airspace looks like a giant jigsaw puzzle. And just as a puzzle consists of many individual pieces, the airspace is divided into flight information regions which are assigned to the radar control centres.

The individual flight information regions of the control centres in turn are subdivided into different sectors. Each sector is controlled by a team of two air traffic controllers: the radar controller and the coordinator. While the radar controller monitors the radar screen and issues instructions and clearances to the pilot via radiotelephony, the coordinator communicates with the adjacent sectors. His tasks include the coordination of transfer levels for inbound and outbound traffic. He also receives the appropriate information from other sectors and supports the radar controller because four eyes see more than two.

All pilots flying under instrument flight rules (IFR) are controlled by the air traffic controllers of DFS. IFR refers to flights which are not navigated by sight but by means of instruments. The controller establishes minimum vertical separation of 1,000 feet (approximately 300 meters) and minimum horizontal separation of between 2.5 and 8 nautical miles (i.e. 4.6 to 14.8 kilometres) between the aircraft involved. If, however, pilots fly under visual flight rules (VFR), they are responsible for maintaining separation from other aircraft themselves. Their flight is not controlled by DFS and they may only use certain airspaces.

As part of civil-military cooperation, area controllers also support military operational air traffic (OAT). This includes, for example:

  • Air traffic control for en-route flights of the armed forces
  • En-route and in-orbit air refuelling
  • Support of large-scale military exercises
  • Services to NATO AWACS during monitoring and training missions in German airspace
  • Monitoring of military training airspaces (TRA)