Air traffic control

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The air traffic control is used for the safe, orderly and liquid handling of air traffic (§ 27 c German LuftVG ). Internationally, air traffic control is organized differently, in particular the cooperation between civil and military agencies. The structure and control of the airspace can be done regionally on the one hand, and according to flight altitude on the other .


The ICAO serves to standardize the rules for aviation worldwide in order to enable safe cross-border air traffic. For the air traffic control sector, it issues recommendations and standards on how to structure and designate airspace and air traffic control services. The airspace is divided into lower and upper airspace on the one hand and controlled and uncontrolled airspace on the other (lower and upper as well as controlled and uncontrolled airspace). In addition, airspaces are divided internationally into so-called classes. Classes A to G currently exist, although airspace A, B and F are not used in Germany. In each class there are precisely defined minimum requirements with regard to visibility, radio operation, cloud distances and approved VFR or IFR traffic.

The airspace structures in the upper airspace are usually larger in size and often not exactly oriented towards political borders. The border between the upper and lower air space is by ICAO at flight level (FL, flight level ) 245 is, however, often varies from pragmatic reasons locally.

In Europe, efforts are being made to combine the national flight security services in EUROCONTROL . This applies in particular to the smaller states and to the upper airspace. The European Union (in cooperation with Norway and Switzerland) is currently working with EUROCONTROL, the national air navigation services and associations of airspace users to standardize the airspace structure, the air traffic control procedures, the technical air traffic control systems and the charging under the motto " Single European Sky ".

Air traffic control tasks

  • The actual air traffic control and monitoring ( air traffic control ; English Air Traffic Control , ATC ).
  • Provision and exchange of information for planning, preparation and execution of flights by publications and consultation before the flight ( Aeronautical Information Service AIS) and the Flight Information Service ( Flight Information Service FIS) during the flight.
  • Not only the safe, but also the economically and ecologically optimal execution of flights through traffic flow control and airspace management is gaining increasing importance.
  • The operation of telecommunications, navigation and location systems, as well as the exchange of messages between various air navigation service providers and agencies.
  • The training of air traffic control personnel.

Air traffic control and monitoring

The to be maintained under all circumstances safety criterion is the graduation (engl. Separation ) and the separation (segregation) of the air transport - horizontal, vertical and time. Exactly defined minimum safety distances between aircraft in the air and on the ground must not be undercut at any time. However, there are exceptions: Fixed distances are not required if the separation is delegated to the pilot in charge under certain conditions, who then independently observes the required safety distance.

To ensure the separation, the aircraft are controlled in their movement: heading, altitude and distance as well as speeds are assigned. If necessary or on request, pilots are also supported with navigation , airport data, weather information and much more. passed on to the pilots.


Air traffic control protects the aircraft against possible dangers and close encounters with the following measures:

  • Issue of air traffic clearances for the execution of a flight under certain conditions (departure time, flight route, flight altitude, flight speed):

The publications of the orientations of runways (RWY) and Airways , the radials of the VOR -Funkfeuer, specifying tax rates and wind directions takes place each miss-setting , d. H. related to the magnetic north pole.

The actual air traffic control service (ATC, Air Traffic Control Service) is only performed in controlled airspace . Controls all aircraft after IFR (Instrument Flight Rules, IFR) operate. Visual flight rules (VFR) flights are only checked in certain defined airspaces.

Regional division

The district control center or the Area Control Center (ACC) of the respective Flight Information Region (FIR), which covers an average of 100,000 km² or the size of small states, is responsible for air traffic control . Germany, for example, had five center areas until 2006 : Berlin, Bremen, Langen near Frankfurt, Karlsruhe and Munich. In 2006 the centers were reduced to ACC Bremen (FIR Bremen), ACC Langen (FIR Langen) and ACC Munich (FIR Munich). The UIRs (Upper Flight Information Regions), which are monitored by Upper Area Control Centers (UACC), are located above the FIRs . There are two UIRs in Germany: the UIR Hannover is controlled by the UACC Maastricht and the UIR Rhine by the UACC Karlsruhe.

The FIR or UIR got its name from Flug-Informations-Dienst (FIS, Flight Information Service ). This is available in the controlled and uncontrolled airspace for flights according to visual as well as for flights according to instrument flight rules (IFR).

Italy has three FIRs; Austria , the Czech Republic , Denmark or Switzerland each form their own FIR.

Technical equipment

The basis of modern air traffic control are air traffic management systems, which essentially consist of a flight plan data processing system and a radar data processing system. Radar systems, which cover Europe and North America at intervals of 200–300 km, feed the ATM systems with current overflight data.

An additional safeguard is the assigned flight altitude (to be reported by the pilot ) and the flight plan submitted before take-off . The coordination of the flights between the systems of the individual control centers is carried out and monitored automatically by the ATM systems, e.g. B. by means of radar monitoring .

Air navigation service providers

The supervisory function is in the hands of the state and can be carried out by government and / or independent bodies according to national circumstances. There is often a separation between the air traffic control authority and the air traffic control organization.

An air navigation service provider is the entity directly responsible for the performance of air traffic control services in a specified airspace (in accordance with ICAO Annexes 2, 6, 10 and 11 as well as ICAO documents 4444 and 9426 and other international, multinational and national laws, agreements and regulations) . Air traffic services can be: flight information service , alerting service, air traffic control service , etc.

The air navigation service providers can be state authorities, public institutions or private companies and companies - there are a wide variety of models around the world. The air traffic control systems of the world are united and represented by the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO) based at Schiphol Airport , Netherlands .

In the United States , all airspace services are provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). With the exception of those operated by the United States Department of Defense , the FAA is responsible for all aspects of air traffic control, including the hiring and training of air traffic controllers. Nevertheless, there are control towers nationwide that are not manned by the FAA, but contractually by private companies, which, however, perform the same tasks and functions. Defense Department facilities are generally managed by military personnel and operate separately, but at the same time as the FAA facilities under similar regulations and procedures.

There are numerous air traffic control and air traffic control centers around the world:

  • AlbaniaAlbania Albania - Agjencia Nacionale e Trafikut Ajror
  • ArmeniaArmenia Armenia - Armenian Air Traffic Services (ARMATS)
  • AustraliaAustralia Australia - Airservices Australia (state owned company) and Royal Australian Air Force .
  • BelgiumBelgium Belgium - skeyes
  • BrazilBrazil Brazil - Departmento de Controle de Tráfego Aéreo (military authority) and ANAC - Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil
  • BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria - Air Traffic Services Authority
  • DenmarkDenmark Denmark - Naviair
  • GermanyGermany Germany - German Air Traffic Control (private, state-owned company)
  • Dominican RepublicDominican Republic Dominican Republic - DGAC (Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil)
  • EstoniaEstonia Estonia - Lennuliiklusteeninduse
  • European UnionEuropean Union European Union - Eurocontrol - (European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation)
  • FinlandFinland Finland - Finavia
  • FranceFrance France - Direction générale de l'aviation civile  : Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DSNA) (state body)
  • GeorgiaGeorgia Georgia - SAKAERONAVIGATSIA, Ltd. (Georgian Air Navigation)
  • GreeceGreece Greece - Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA)
  • Hong KongHong Kong Hong Kong - CAD (Department of Civil Aviation Administration)
  • IndiaIndia India - Airports Authority of India (AAI) (under the Ministry of Civil Aviation)
  • IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia - Angkasa Pura II
  • IrelandIreland Ireland - IAA (Irish Aviation Authority)
  • IcelandIceland Iceland - ISAVIA
  • ItalyItaly Italy - ENAV (state company)
  • JamaicaJamaica Jamaica - JCAA (Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority)
  • CanadaCanada Canada - NAV CANADA - formerly operated by Transport Canada
  • ColombiaColombia Colombia - Aeronáutica Civil Colombiana
  • CroatiaCroatia Croatia - Hrvatska kontrola zračne plovidbe (Croatia Control Ltd.)
  • CubaCuba Cuba - IACC (Instituto de Aeronáutica Civil de Cuba)
  • LatviaLatvia Latvia - (Latvian ATC)
  • LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania - ANS (Lithuanian ATC)
  • LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg - Administration de la navigation aérienne (public authority)
  • Macedonia 1995Macedonia Macedonia - DGCA (Macedonian ATC)
  • MalaysiaMalaysia Malaysia - DCA Department of Civil Aviation
  • MaltaMalta Malta - Malta Air Traffic Services Ltd
  • MexicoMexico Mexico - Servicios a la Navegación en el Espacio Aéreo Mexicano
  • NepalNepal Nepal - Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal
  • New ZealandNew Zealand New Zealand - Airways New Zealand (state-owned company)
  • NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands - Luchtverkeersleiding Nederland (LVNL)
  • NorwayNorway Norway - Avinor (state owned private company)
  • AustriaAustria Austria - Austro Control
  • PakistanPakistan Pakistan - Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan (under the Government of Pakistan)
  • PeruPeru Peru - Centro de Instrucción de Aviación Civil CIAC, Civil Aviation Training Center
  • PhilippinesPhilippines Philippines - Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) (under the Philippine Government)
  • PolandPoland Poland - PANSA - Polish Air Navigation Services Agency
  • PortugalPortugal Portugal - NAV - (Portuguese ATC)
  • RomaniaRomania Romania - Romanian Air Traffic Services Administration - (ROMATSA)
  • RussiaRussia Russia - Federal State Unitary Enterprise "State ATM Corporation" - (State ATM Corporation)
  • Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia Saudi Arabia - General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA)
  • SwedenSweden Sweden - The LFV Group (Swedish ATC)
  • SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland - Skyguide
  • SerbiaSerbia Serbia - Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency Ltd. (SMATSA)
  • SingaporeSingapore Singapore - CAAS (Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore)
  • SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia - Letové prevádzkové služby Slovenskej republiky
  • SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia - Slovenia Control
  • SpainSpain Spain - AENA (Spanish Air Traffic Control and Airports)
  • South AfricaSouth Africa South Africa - Air Traffic and Navigation Services
  • TaiwanRepublic of China (Taiwan) Taiwan - ANWS Civil Aeronautical Administration
  • ThailandThailand Thailand - AEROTHAI (Aeronautical Radio of Thailand)
  • Trinidad and TobagoTrinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago - TTCAA (Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority)
  • Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic - Řízení letového provozu ČR
  • TurkeyTurkey Turkey - DGCA (Turkish Directorate General of Civil Aviation)
  • UkraineUkraine Ukraine - Ukrainian State Air Traffic Service Enterprise (UkSATSE)
  • HungaryHungary Hungary - HungaroControl Magyar Légiforgalmi Szolgálat Zrt. (HungaroControl Hungarian Air Navigation Services Pte. Ltd. Co.)
  • VenezuelaVenezuela Venezuela - INAC (Instituto Nacional de Aviación Civil)
  • United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates - General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)
  • United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom - National Air Traffic Services (49% state owned, public-private partnership)
  • United StatesUnited States United States - Federal Aviation Administration (government agency)
  • Central America - Corporación Centroamericana de Servicios de Navegación Aerea

Air traffic control in Germany

In the Federal Republic of Germany , air traffic control was carried out from 1993 to 2006 by the German Air Traffic Control (DFS) , with EUROCONTROL being responsible in the upper north-west German airspace. Until the end of 1992, the former Federal Agency for Air Traffic Control (BFS) exercised this sovereign activity with special police functions. Since the end of 2006, DFS has only been the authority responsible for air traffic control according to the LuftVG . In Germany there are currently four approved air traffic control organizations (DFS, Austro Control , DFS Aviation Services GmbH (DAS) and the Mannheim airport ) that carry out air traffic control in Germany. At the 16 international airports in Germany and in route control as well as in approach and departure control, DFS performs this task as the responsible air traffic control on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). In addition, the Air Traffic Control Office of the Bundeswehr (AFSBw) is responsible for air traffic control in the field of military aviation .

Air traffic control must be strictly distinguished from air security , which serves to ward off external dangers (such as terrorism). One of the main tasks of air traffic control is to monitor the airspace and to issue instructions to the pilots in the airspaces it controls and at the airfields to ensure the necessary safety distances between the aircraft and thus avoid collisions. The instructions, which are also issued as air traffic control clearances (Section 26 Aviation Regulations, LuftVO ), are police orders: non-compliance is subject to penalties (Section 29 LuftVG in conjunction with Section 59 LuftVG) and may only be deviated from in acute danger. Art. 12 of the Chicago Convention of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) underlines the special police character of air traffic control, also from an international point of view. According to this, states are obliged to prosecute violations of their pilots (at home and abroad) against the applicable regulations.

Air traffic control in Germany is subject to all flights that are carried out according to the so-called instrument flight rules ( IFR ) (§ 4 LuftVO) as well as flights according to visual flight rules ( VFR ) in certain controlled airspaces. This creates the possibility of flying in almost all weather conditions (so-called instrument flight) and thus carrying out regular and safe air traffic. The air traffic control services, which u. a. also include the flight information service, the flight advisory service and the provision of the technical and navigational infrastructure, are used by almost all flights that take place.

The increase in air traffic - for example, almost 3 million aircraft movements are checked by air traffic control over Germany every year - underlines the importance of air traffic control. Civil and military air traffic control outside of the military airfields and the airspaces reserved for military operations are integrated into a joint service in Germany. The supra- local military air traffic control of the AFSBw is integrated in the DFS and is carried out in cooperation with the latter, only the local military air traffic control (place control) is carried out separately.

DFS antenna systems north of Dreieichenhain (Hesse)
SRE-M long -range radar system (
en-route radar ) from DFS on the Auersberg in the Ore Mountains.


The origins of air traffic control in Germany go back to the year 1910, when the aviation warning service was created to provide aircraft pilots with meteorological and bearing information by telegram . The air traffic control carried out mainly by the radio stations located at the airports was summarized in 1927 in the "Central Office for Air Traffic Control" set up by ordinance of the Reich President of July 23, 1927 ( Reichsgesetzblatt I p. 237). The Central Office for Air Traffic Control, which was subordinate to the Reich Ministry of Transport , was converted into the Reich Office for Air Traffic Control in February 1933 and subordinated to the Reich Commissioner for Aviation . The legal basis for this was subsequently created by the law on the Reich Aviation Administration of December 15, 1933 (Reichsgesetzbl. I p. 1077). In November 1934, the Reich Office for Air Traffic Control was converted into the Reich Office for Weather Service and air traffic control was integrated into the Reich Ministry of Aviation . From then on, the management of the Reichsflugsicherung was with the "Office for Civil Aviation" of the Reich Aviation Ministry. The Reichsflugsicherungsnetz formed part of the European air traffic control organization. All systems and operating procedures of the air traffic control service were largely uniform. The International Telecommunications Operating Regulations (IBO) and the Telecommunications Operating Regulations (FBO) drawn up after it were the basis for the air traffic control service.

After 1945 the Allies created their own air traffic control services for the foreign air traffic that was gradually emerging over Germany. With the law on the Federal Agency for Air Traffic Control (BFS) of March 23, 1953, the legal and administrative basis for the takeover of the Allied air traffic control services by the Federal Republic of Germany was created. Air traffic control thus passed into the hands of the BFS. A similar development took place in the GDR, where the civil air traffic control services were provided by a company part of the state-owned Interflug . With the unification agreement in 1990, air traffic control in the GDR was transferred to the BFS. On the same day, responsibility for the air traffic control services carried out by the Allies in the Berlin air corridors and via Berlin passed to the Federal Republic of Germany on the same day. The Allied agencies continued to carry out the tasks under the supervision of the BFS on a contractual basis until the BFS or DFS could carry out the tasks with its own facilities and its own staff.

DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH was founded in 1992 with the federal government as sole owner . On January 1, 1993, the BFS facilities were transferred to DFS, the BFS staff were taken over by DFS and DFS was entrusted with the performance of air traffic control tasks. The BFS Act was repealed on January 1, 1993 and replaced by provisions in the Aviation Act (in particular Sections 27c, 27d and 31b LuftVG).

Deutsche Flugsicherung celebrated a double anniversary in 2003/04: 50 years of air traffic control in Germany and 10 years of Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH.

In the NVA , the military air traffic control was part of the communication technology of the air forces. Their tasks included runway lighting , direction finding systems and the operation of radio beacons for military purposes.

Air traffic control in Austria

In Austria air traffic control is carried out by Austro Control GmbH, which emerged in 1993 from the Austrian Federal Office for Civil Aviation.

Air traffic control in Switzerland

In Switzerland, both military and civil air traffic control are carried out by skyguide . Due to the approach regime at Zurich-Kloten Airport , it is also responsible for a small part of southern Germany. This was important in the legal assessment of the Überlingen disaster in 2002, when a mistake on the part of skyguide was the main cause of the accident. The Federal Republic of Germany was liable for the damage, as air traffic control, as a sovereign task of Germany, could not be transferred to another country.

The flight movements at the airports in Geneva and Lugano also affect national borders.

In return, the French civil aviation authority DGAC takes over air traffic control in parts of north-western Switzerland because of the approach and departure of EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg .

Air traffic control fees under Eurocontrol

According to Castelli / Ranieri (2007) the air traffic control fee is calculated as follows:

d / 100 * sqrt(MTOW/50) * u


  • d: Great circle distance between the entry and exit points of the respective national air traffic control area, in kilometers. The flight plan submitted is decisive .
  • MTOW : Maximum permitted take-off weight in metric tons , according to the type approval of the aviation authority.
  • u: So-called unit rate in euros. This approach varies from country to country, which ultimately influences the choice of route. In the above publication, Ireland charged € 24.95, Italy € 67.66 and the United Kingdom € 81.70 in 2007. The unit rate is set by each country and approved by Eurocontrol in November. The unit rate of countries that have a currency other than the euro is adjusted every month.

These fees do not apply to ambulance flights and flights under visual flight rules . Likewise, no fees are charged for the 20 kilometers after take-off and the 20 kilometers before landing; Air traffic control for arrivals and departures is financed through landing fees.

See also


Air traffic control publications:

  • Articles from research and developments at DFS
  • AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication, AIP) - for example, approach charts; VFR bulletin
  • News for pilots (NfL)
  • Notice to Airmen ( NOTAM )
  • Aerospace Information Circular ( Aeronautical Information Circular , AIC)
  • Route maps for IFR and VFR; ICAO visual flight charts and a. m.

Web links

Commons : Air traffic control  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Air traffic control  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Castelli, Lorenzo and Ranieri, Andrea: Air navigation service charges in Europe. In: USA / Europe Air Traffic Management Research and Development Seminars. 2007, Retrieved August 7, 2017 .
  2. ^ Monthly Adjusted Unit Rates. Eurocontrol , accessed August 8, 2017 .