High number of drone sightings despite traffic slump

Unauthorised drone flights at Germany’s international airports continue to increase even in times of the corona crisis. In the current year, the German air navigation service provider DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung has already recorded 25 drone sightings in the vicinity and within the boundaries of airports. In the same period in 2019, there were only 17 cases.

22.04.2020.- The number of reports of unauthorised drone flights at German airports has reached new record numbers since the beginning of the year. There were 4 occurrences caused by unmanned aircraft in January, 10 in February and 11 in March. In the same periods in 2019, there was 1 sighting in January and 8 sightings in each of the following two months.

This year again, Germany's busiest airport Frankfurt is the most affected with a total of 16 reported drone sightings. Eleven of these sightings occurred in March. Further cases were recorded at the airports of Berlin Tegel (3), Hamburg (2) as well as Munich, Stuttgart, Nürnberg and Saarbrücken (one sighting each). The number of drone sightings is based on reports by aircraft crews and observations by air traffic controllers and airport staff. The drones were sighted in the vicinity of the airports, in some cases even within airport boundaries.

Occurrences with drones cause delays and flight cancellations

Since unauthorised drone flights at airports pose a hazard to passengers and aircraft crews, air traffic controllers cannot issue take-off and landing clearances in certain cases for reasons of safety. The consequences may be considerable delays, alternate landings and flight cancellations.
Moreover, operational disruptions cause major economic damage for the airports and airlines concerned. This year alone, air traffic at Frankfurt Airport came to a partial or even complete standstill for four hours in total following two occurrences in February and March. In 2019, the total duration of all traffic disruptions in Germany corresponded to about three hours.

Drone flights at airports are prosecuted

By law, unauthorised drone flights in the vicinity of airports are considered as a dangerous interference in air traffic and will be punished with imprisonment of up to ten years. On behalf of the Federal German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, DFS has already developed a concept for the systematic detection of drones at Germany’s international airports. To this end, initial tests with various drone detection systems will be carried out at airports in the middle of the year.

Further information

On its website www.safe-droneflight.de DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung provides all relevant information for safe drone flights in a clear and concise way.

The free DFS drone app for iOS and Android devices offers an interactive map with all local flight restrictions and current information.

Media contact:
Ute Otterbein
Telephone: +49 (0)6103 / 707-4162

DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,600 employees as at 31 December 2019. 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