At the Annual Press Briefing at DFS on Wednesday, the Chairman and CEO of DFS, Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, stressed that "safety, punctuality and cost-effectiveness are a must for DFS". In addition, the CEO sees a chance to position DFS as a leader in technology on the national and international scene.
In 2013, DFS costs were reduced by 4.6 percent. Together with a solid financial result, this enabled a positive net income of € 56.8 million (2012: € 6.4 million).
Klaus-Dieter Scheurle presented the figures for traffic, safety and punctuality for the year 2013. DFS controlled 2.953 million flight movements in 2013, which represented a 1.4 percent decline over the prior year. The decline shows that the stagnation in traffic volume begun five years previously had not abated. At only 0.6 percent, growth for the first 13 weeks of this year has also been very slight compared with the prior-year period. This was despite the very mild winter.
As regards the company's main duty, namely ensuring safety in air traffic, DFS is happy to report that the same high level achieved in previous years has been maintained. The independent Aircraft Proximity Evaluation Group (APEG) reported only two incidents of risk category A (immediate risk), whereby in both cases DFS was not involved. It also reported three incidents of risk category B (safety not assured), one of which involved air navigation services.
Klaus-Dieter Scheurle expressly praised the excellent work of the staff. The excellent job done by staff is reflected in the improved punctuality figures. Almost 98 percent of all the flights controlled by DFS in German airspace in 2013 had no ATC-related delays. This represents a two percent improvement over the previous year. The improvement is primarily attributable to management initiatives such as the improvement in the staff situation in those areas prone to delays in the past. Overall, staff numbers at DFS decreased slightly (end of 2012: 6,103 employees; end of 2013: 6,046; currently: 5,990).
Addressing the current discussion on the erection of wind turbines in the direct vicinity of radio beacons operated by air navigation services, Klaus-Dieter Scheurle said that the company understands that "two areas of infrastructure which are of great importance to our society find themselves in conflict. But we are not prepared to accept a reduction in the level of safety". In the past year, DFS only objected to 182 cases of the 1,381 requested wind turbines, which is equivalent to 13 percent. In 2012, only three percent of the turbines were not approved. In the meantime, there are 23,645 wind turbines in Germany and this number continues to grow.
In this connection, Klaus-Dieter Scheurle called for all aircraft to be equipped with satellite technology. DFS explicitly supports efforts to adapt international standards as required.
Last year, DFS installed the world's second largest multilateration system at Frankfurt Airport, which is just one of several modern, cutting-edge technology projects that DFS is driving forward. The multilateration system provides air traffic controllers with an air situation display on their radar screens that is updated every second.
The remote tower concept is another large project to be implemented in the future. As a first step, it is planned to introduce remote control of the airports of Dresden, Erfurt and Saarbrücken from the control tower in Leipzig.
The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and DFS are jointly developing a sectorless air traffic management system. Currently, air traffic controllers work in their own area of responsibility, known as sectors. It is planned to eliminate these sectors in upper airspace, which would represent a paradigm shift in the world of air navigation services. By reducing the number of interfaces and handover points, a higher level of productivity would be achieved.
The CEO of DFS said: "We want to drive change. We want to be a trusted provider of modern air navigation services technology. And we want to be a leader on the international scene."