A Berlin success story

DFS control tower at new Berlin Brandenburg Airport has been operational for five years

23.03.2017.- The tower for the new Berlin Brandenburg went operational in the night from 24 to 25 March 2012, in time for the originally planned opening of the airport, marking a new period of air traffic control history in Berlin. Since then, the German air navigation services provider DFS has handled the air traffic at Berlin Schönefeld from this tower and, when the new airport is opened, will continue to do so.

At 72 metres, the tower is the second highest control tower in Germany and is a symbol of DFS and the future capital city airport that can be seen from afar. The construction of a new tower between the two parallel runways, which took three years, was necessary for the new Berlin airport as the old Schönefeld tower no longer afforded a clear and unobstructed view of all operating areas.

The construction of the new tower was a technical and organisational challenge given the fact that the airport continued operations during the period and that air traffic controllers had to be trained and recruited over the same period. DFS invested just under EUR 37 million in the building itself and, above all, in advanced technological systems. The level of technology has kept pace with the times over the last five years and has been enhanced and expanded.

Hans Niebergall, head of the tower branch in Berlin, is proud of what has been achieved: "It took a lot of teamwork and professionalism to get the tower up and running on time and on budget. Since then, our people have been working day in and day out to ensure that the traffic in the air and on the ground is handled safely and expeditiously, even as the traffic volume has risen." The air traffic controllers for Schönefeld Airport recorded 95,000 arrivals and departures in 2016 – 37 percent more than in 2012. There was an additional 16 percent rise over the prior-year period from the beginning of the year until mid-March.

Nevertheless, the uncertainty as regards the final opening date of the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport is causing problems for workforce planning at DFS: "We don't have a staffing problem, we have a problem with an opening date that is, in effect, a moving target. We have to keep adjusting out workforce planning to a start date which is still uncertain. Originally, we would have needed a minimum of 13 months as lead time before opening to get our air traffic controllers fully trained for the new airport. However, the postponement of the opening beyond 2018 means that this minimum lead time for training would increase because of workforce planning issues."

You can download pictures of the DFS tower in Berlin here:

DFS-Tower BER 01

DFS-Tower BER 02

DFS-Tower BER 03


DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,550 employees as at 31 December 2016. 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 DFS subsidiary, DFS Aviation Services GmbH, provides air navigation services as well as consultancy services.