Safety is our byword 

The safety of air traffic is the top priority for DFS. Our air traffic controllers ensure that aircraft under their control never come too close to each other, whether in the air or on the ground. To maintain this high level of safety, we operate an elaborate safety management system. 

air traffic controller in tower at night

Safety as a corporate objective 

The task of DFS is to ensure the safe, orderly and expeditious handling of air traffic in German airspace, as laid down in the German Aviation Act. To this end, DFS has set up a safety management system, thus also fulfilling EU requirements. 

The safety level of the company is constantly monitored and documented by various bodies – both externally and internally. As a specialist and safety supervisory authority of the company, the German Federal Supervisory Authority for Air Navigation Services regularly and independently reviews all DFS processes. Internally, DFS carries out regular safety surveys and safety audits to ensure that the required safety level is maintained.  

How safety is ensured

air traffic controller in center Bremen

Corporate Safety & Security Management     

The Corporate Safety & Security Management unit of DFS works independently and autonomously. It advises and supports the Executive Board and the directors of operations in matters of safety and security. Whenever changes are made to the air traffic management system, the safety and security specialists examine potential hazards, prepare a systematic risk analysis and ensure that possible risks are reduced to an acceptable level by taking appropriate measures. No operational change goes live without such safety documentation.  

As regards security, Corporate Safety & Security Management operates an information security management system. It is used to identify and assess risks at an early stage. Building on this, targeted measures are taken to ensure the necessary protection of the critical infrastructure and all other DFS services in accordance with the state of the art. 

Safety-related occurrences are reported by operational staff and systematically investigated in the unit. These include, for example, infringements of separation, failures to maintain agreed minimum distances from airspace boundaries and aborted take-offs. The aim is to detect safety risks related to air traffic control and to eliminate them through appropriate countermeasures. This is not a matter of apportioning blame. The findings from the investigations are used to avoid repetitions and to increase the level of safety. 

view on aircraft taxiing from above

Runway incursions 

A protected area is defined for each aircraft that takes off or lands. No other aircraft, vehicles or persons are allowed in this area. A runway incursion occurs when this protected area is violated. It does not matter whether other traffic was endangered or not. 
Every runway incursion is recorded, analysed and assessed by DFS with regard to its severity. DFS uses a standardised EU-wide system that distinguishes between five severity categories. The majority of runway incursions fall into the 'no safety effect' category.  

Infringements of separation 

Pilots flying under visual flight rules must pay attention to any prescribed minimum distances themselves. For aircraft using instrument flight rules, the controllers are in charge. Their task is to ensure the prescribed minimum separation distances between aircraft are complied with. If two aircraft do not maintain this separation, this is called an infringement of separation. The minimum separation distances are set in such a way that there is still sufficient safety buffer in case of an infringement.   

Any such infringement is reported and subsequently investigated. In this way, possible weaknesses in the system can be detected and closed. DFS uses a standardised EU-wide system that distinguishes between five severity categories in its assessments. The majority of runway incursions fall into the 'no safety effect' category.  

airplane wing view