Optimisation of airspace boundaries

The DFS upper area control centre in Karlsruhe and Eurocontrol’s upper area control centre in Maastricht are working together to enhance the airspace structure at the boundary between their respective airspaces.

10.11.2020.- Following the principle “less complex is better”, the two upper area control centres in Karlsruhe (DFS) and Maastricht (Eurocontrol) have launched an initiative to optimise the transfer of flights at the boundary of their areas of responsibility. The Cooperative Optimisation of Boundaries, Routes and Airspace (COBRA) initiative has developed three work packages and started to implement them. The issues under consideration include changes to the delegated airspaces, new sector boundaries and modified handover procedures. Some of these considerations have progressed significantly, while other ideas are still being developed.

The Karlsruhe and Maastricht centres handle the busiest airspace in Europe. Complexity plays a major role in determining airspace capacity and air traffic controllers’ workload. The COBRA project is developing measures in the Central, East and West modules for the adjacent sectors along the geographical borders between Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. The objective of the planned modifications is to reduce the complexity of air traffic in these airspaces for controllers. This will in turn optimise workflows, which will increase safety and airspace capacity as well as shorten the routes.

The planned measures include the shifting of sector boundaries, modifications in transfer procedures, a relocation of flight routes as well as agreements to redesign delegated airspaces. They will also affect the DFS control centres in Bremen and Langen, which control airspaces adjacent to Maastricht and Karlsruhe sectors.

Part of the project called Package West is well advanced. It is to establish shorter routes in the airspace above the border area between Germany and Belgium/Luxembourg stretching almost to Cologne. It will lead to improved flight profiles with effects on approach and departure procedures at nearby airports – mainly Frankfurt. In preparation for the actual implementation, first simulations of the measures in Karlsruhe are being planned for the first quarter of 2021, with implementation scheduled for the year 2022. If the results are positive, controllers could start training as early as in winter 2021.

Another package of the project called Package Central has also progressed well, although no simulations have yet been planned. The development of measures for the Package East, which covers the boundaries of the airspace above Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt/Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to the Baltic Sea, has just started recently.

Media contact:
Boris Pfetzing
Telephone: +49 172 5407801
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 5,600 employees as at 30 June 2020. DFS ensures the safe and punctual flow of air traffic over Germany. Around 2,200 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