DFS launches sophisticated system in Karlsruhe as a step towards European standardisation

13.11.2017.- A brand new air traffic management (ATM) system was launched at the weekend at the Karlsruhe control centre. This is the first step towards standardising the systems used in Europe. The system will speed up and improve the handling of air traffic in upper airspace. The successful launch also means that plans to implement the system at all DFS control centres across Germany can proceed.

DFS had invested more than ten years of development time, countless tests, training courses, technical modifications and several weekends of trial operations before the new ATM system was ready to launch. Last weekend, the preparations were finally complete. On Sunday morning at 12:34 a.m., the first aircraft in German airspace was controlled with the new iCAS (iTEC Centre Automation Systems) system.

The future has arrived
With iCAS, DFS has created the conditions needed for even more flexible control of air traffic in upper and lower airspace. The new system responds faster, is more powerful and displays targets more precisely than the system it replaces. The new functionalities that iCAS delivers are particularly pertinent for lower airspace as they will allow airspace users to fly to their destinations independently of fixed routes in the future. This free route airspace concept will be expanded considerably in Europe in the coming years.

"The first step has been taken in creating a new systems future at DFS and its European partners," said Robert Schickling, Managing Director Operations at DFS. “With this new, state-of-the art system, we are responding to our own aspiration to be a technology leader in the world of air navigation services.” DFS is currently working on adapting the system to the needs of its three control centres for lower airspace. The launch at these locations is scheduled to begin in 2021. "Our goal is to have a standard system in place at all our units," said Schickling.

i as in iTEC
iCAS is part of the joint European project iTEC (interoperability Through European Collaboration). Several air navigation service providers have joined forces in this alliance to develop a new generation of ATM systems with common core components, together with the Spanish IT company Indra. In addition, iCAS also uses tried-and-tested components from the portfolio of the DFS Systems House. The aim is to make the ATM systems of the individual countries compatible by means of common standards.

DFS has been working on this with LVNL (the Netherlands), PANSA (Poland) and Oro Navigacija (Lithuania). The iTEC Alliance consists of the DFS Group (Germany), NATS (United Kingdom) with its project partner AVINOR (Norway) and ENAIRE (Spain). The benefits of standardised ATM systems across Europe include improved collaboration and lower maintenance costs.

UAC Karlsruhe – the DFS control centre for upper airspace
The DFS upper area control centre (UAC) in Karlsruhe has controlled traffic in the upper airspace of Germany since 1977. Upper airspace starts at approximately 7,500 metres. Annually, about 1.8 million flights cross this airspace above Germany. The UAC Karlsruhe was the first European control centre to introduce a very advanced ATM system in December 2010. With the introduction of iCAS, Karlsruhe is once again one of the most advanced air traffic control centres in the world.

ICAS Karlsruhe monitor view (JPG)
The first aircraft to be controlled by the new iCAS system was displayed on the monitor as FDX10. It was a FedEx plane on its way from Paris to Tokyo.
(Photo: DFS)

ICAS Karlsruhe operations room (JPG)
Bildunterschrift: Die Kontrollzentrale der DFS in Karlsruhe: Innenraum
(Photo: DFS)

DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
VK/M – Public Relations
Karlsruhe UAC
Telephone: +49 (0) 721 6903 - 310
Fax: +49 (0) 6103 6903 - 243
E-mail:  boris.pfetzing@dfs.de

DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,400 employees as at 30 September 2017. 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. This makes Germany the country with the highest traffic volume in Europe. The company operates control centres in Langen, Bremen, Karlsruhe and Munich as well as control towers at 16 international airports in Germany. The subsidiary, DFS Aviation Services GmbH, markets and sells products and services related to air navigation services, and provides air traffic control at nine regional airports in Germany and at London Gatwick Airport in the UK.