Press release

EUROCONTROL and Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (DFS) have signed an agreement to further harmonise air navigation services in the upper airspace of Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands

Brussels – Eamonn Brennan, Director General of EUROCONTROL, and Arndt Schoenemann, CEO of DFS, today signed, in the presence of Henrik Hololei, Director-General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission, a cooperation agreement which will bring direct benefits for the wider aviation community in Europe. Under the agreement, EUROCONTROL's Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) and the DFS Karlsruhe Upper Area Control Centre (KUAC) will further harmonise the provision of air navigation services by means of technical and operational convergence.

Dirk Mahns (COO of DFS), Arndt Schoenemann (CEO of DFS) and Eamonn Brennan (DG of EUROCONTROL) signing the agreement, in the presence of  Henrik Hololei (Director General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission)

The agreement will see a further harmonisation of operational and technical concepts between the two centres over several steps. This harmonisation of processes, procedures and technology will lead to a seamless user experience, and an improvement in capacity, safety and environment. The first step is to align the concepts of operations and the necessary systems of the two air navigation service providers.

Both control centres will share technology and expertise for leading-edge air traffic flow and capacity management as well as airspace management (ATFCM/ASM). Measures include optimisation of the joint airspace boundaries between KUAC and MUAC to enable improved flight profiles and traffic handling.

The common system platform will be based on a virtual infrastructure which will provide services and software solutions for both centres, and which can also be potentially made available to third parties in the long term.

The technological convergence allows the deployment of common system components running at two geo-redundant data centres shared between MUAC and KUAC. Services and software solutions for both control centres will be based on private cloud technologies. With the use of future-proof information technology, flexibility will be enhanced.

“I am delighted to see the signature of this important agreement for European aviation. Every little step counts and this is a significant one towards seamless airspace management, technological conversion in Europe and delivering the Digital European Sky.”

Henrik Hololei Director General for Mobility and Transport European Commission

"If we want to be able to handle the growing number of aircraft across Europe, innovative solutions and increased cross-border cooperation are needed. This agreement is between two of Europe's largest air navigation service providers, and is a key building block for a uniform air traffic management system in a part of the continent which hosts around 35% of European traffic - and is also home to some of the largest European airports. We are delighted to steer and pilot such a large-scale cooperation which shows how, even in a complex business such as aviation, close cooperation is possible and beneficial."

Eamonn Brennan Director General EUROCONTROL
Signatories of EUROCONTROL and DFS, as well as the European Commission

"With this new cooperation agreement, MUAC and DFS are making a further significant step towards the realisation of the Single European Sky. Managing a large-scale European airspace based on a harmonised concept of operations between the two major en-route centres in Europe will deliver direct benefits to all airspace users. Both organisations have been using their excellent relationship during the pandemic to develop this common strategy. This cooperation has already delivered some first significant airspace improvements with the COBRA (Cooperative Optimisation of Boundaries, Routes and Airspace) project."

Arndt Schoenemann CEO Deutsche Flugsicherung GmBH (DFS)

"Now, we are turning into reality what has been on the political agenda for quite a while. When we concluded the feasibility study leading to this important milestone, it was obvious that both DFS and MUAC shared a common vision and culture of providing seamless and top-of-the-range services to airspace users. The setting-up of the two geo-redundant data centres will be done in line with the “virtual centre” concept. The data centres will be the backbone of the highest interoperability and seamless service provision in Europe. Sharing system components will generate major benefits in terms of safety, capacity, cost-efficiency and sustainability for the entire aviation community. This constitutes a further major milestone towards the Single Digital Sky. We are excited to work hand-in-hand with DFS to make this innovation a reality in European ATM."

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Note to editors

About MUAC

Operated by EUROCONTROL on behalf of four States, EUROCONTROL's Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) is the only multinational air navigation service provider in Europe. It provides civil and military cross-border air traffic control in the upper airspace of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and north-west Germany (from 7.5 km or 24,500 feet). Some 1.9 million flights pass through MUAC's area of responsibility each year, making it the third busiest air traffic control facility in Europe in terms of traffic volume. During the summer, peak days see over 5,700 flights. MUAC's international area of responsibility is a perfect example of the simplification and harmonisation of airspace in Europe and is fully in line with the objectives of the Single European Sky. As a tangible example of a successful multinational project and a working demonstration of a functional airspace block, MUAC offers considerable benefits to aircraft operators, its Member States, the European network and aviation as a whole.

Originally set up in 1972, MUAC is celebrating 50 years of efficient cross-border multinational service provision in 2022.

More information on the website.

About DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung

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 2022. DFS ensures the safe and punctual flow of air traffic over Germany. Around 2,200 air traffic controllers guide more than three million flights through German airspace in peak years, up to 10,000 every day. The company operates control centres in Bremen, Karlsruhe, Langen and Munich as well as control towers at the 15 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 is working on the integration of drones into air traffic and has set up a joint venture, Droniq GmbH, with Deutsche Telekom. Other subsidiaries include R. Eisenschmidt GmbH, which markets publications and products for general aviation, and Kaufbeuren ATM Training GmbH (KAT), which provides training for military air traffic services personnel. The joint venture FCS Flight Calibration Services GmbH offers flight inspection service.

More information on the website.

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