DFS rejects criticism expressed at the wind energy summit

On the occasion of the wind energy summit, which took place in Berlin at the beginning of September, representatives of the wind energy sector criticised DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung again for being an obstacle when it comes to building new wind turbines. DFS rejects the accusations made. The criticism does not consider the challenge of creating the necessary balance between the expansion of renewable energies and the safety interests of the aviation sector.

13.09.2019.- “We do not block the switch to sustainable energy. On the contrary, we support the expansion of wind energy wherever possible. We never generally refuse permission to build a wind turbine within the protected area around a navigation aid,” said Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung, when commenting the accusations made by the wind energy sector on the occasion at the wind energy summit organised by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) at the beginning of September. At the summit in Berlin, Federal and State politicians, grassroot movements and representatives of the wind energy sector discussed the current problems and challenges in connection with the stagnating expansion of wind energy in Germany.

“In the course of the permission procedure, our specialists assess each request within these areas individually to determine whether the construction measure would impair air safety and might therefore not be permissible. If this is the case, safety in airspace will have priority for us,” Scheurle clearly pointed out. Such decisions will be taken based on the effect of the wind turbines on signal precision of the navigation facility. If wind turbines deflect and distort signals, these signals can become inaccurate and can therefore no longer be used safely. Omnidirectional radio beacons are crucial navigation aids for the safe use of airspace. They are therefore important for safety in air traffic.

About 2100 wind turbines within protected areas

The criticism of the wind energy sector that rejection practice at DFS generally prevents any wind energy projects within a 15-km radius around omnidirectional radio beacons is unfounded. It is true that with the expansion of wind energy to almost 30,000 turbines in Germany, their number within the protected areas around radar and navigation aids is steadily increasing. Currently, there are approximately 2100 wind turbines within the protected areas of DFS omnidirectional radio beacons.
One of the reasons why DFS has to reject additional wind turbines within protected areas of a 15-km radius is this density of turbines, which puts the prescribed accuracy of air navigation facilities at stake. For example, at some locations within the Hannover region, the number of wind turbines has reached the permitted limits. In the protected area of the omnidirectional radio beacon Sarstedt, which is used for arrivals to and departures from Hannover Airport, there are more than 110 wind turbines. By comparison, there are only around 40 wind turbines in the entire territory of Switzerland.

Ground-based navigation aids are still important
The other accusation of the wind energy sector that the ground-based navigation systems of DFS are outdated technology is not true either. Although many aircraft already use satellite navigation, ground-based navigation aids are still required. There is no obligation to use satellite navigation. In addition, DFS has to provide ground-based navigation aids as a fall-back system for an indefinite period of time in case the satellite system (GPS) fails.

The current aircraft operating manuals explicitly list omnidirectional radio beacons as part of the navigation infrastructure. The manuals state that these beacons are important to contribute towards accuracy, integrity, availability and continuity of the aircraft’s position. The required signal accuracy of radar and navigation aids is also determined in the standards and recommended practices published by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

No concessions which compromise safety

Meanwhile, the airspace above Germany is busier than ever. This year, a new record high of approximately 3.5 million flights is expected. “Any concessions which compromise safety are out of the question. We have the statutory obligation to guide air traffic safely through German airspace. Air traffic controllers must have access to reliable radar information, and pilots must be able to adhere to the prescribed routes when navigating,” that’s how DFS CEO Scheurle summarises the situation.

Media contact:
Ute Otterbein
Telephone: +49 (0) 6103 707-4162
E-Mail ute.otterbein@dfs.de

DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,500 employees as at 30/06/2019. 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, more than 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 the 16 designated 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 and Edinburgh Airport in the UK. DFS has been working on the integration of drones into air traffic since 2016 and has set up a joint venture, Droniq GmbH, with Deutsche Telekom. www.dfs.de