Our analysis shows that the German-led Air Defender exercise achieved its mission goal of exercising large-scale air operations with allied air forces, while its impact on civil air traffic in the nine-day exercise period from Monday 12 to Thursday 22 June 2023 was successfully minimised by careful planning.
This important demonstration of European readiness in a challenging security context took the form of a complex exercise for which preparations started last year. EUROCONTROL worked closely with the German Air Force, NATO, airlines, the German ANSP DFS and other air navigation service providers to develop airspace impact assessments, with work intensifying in the run-up to the exercise.
During the exercise, the EUROCONTROL Network Manager each day tactically supported air operators in finding optimal trajectories that avoided the areas when necessary, planned re-routings in advance of up to 800 flights per day, and provided hour-by-hour tactical support to operational aviation stakeholders.
Overall, 12,474 flights were affected with 17 minutes of average delay out of a network total of 293,928 flights over the period, proving the importance of close civil-military cooperation in major network events.