Airspace congestion threatens ME growth

Air traffic control experts have highlighted the challenges of high-density airspaces in Dubai, at the Airport Show being held there.Newly constructed airports and the modernisation of existing infrastructures, coupled with unprecedented airline expansions are leading to explosive air traffic growth in the Middle East. This growth will cause air congestion, said air traffic control experts of the German air navigation service provider DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH at the Airport Show in Dubai, which is taking place from 2 to 4 June. They reasoned that sustainable capacity growth could only be ensured by drawing on the know-how of air traffic management stakeholders in the planning stages and by communicating beyond borders.

“Complex and high-density air traffic areas will challenge the existing air traffic control infrastructures and organisations”, emphasised Dieter Kaden, Chairman and CEO of DFS in his opening day keynote address at the Air Traffic Control conference, held at the Airport Show at Airport Expo Dubai. Kaden, whose company controls more than 3 million flights under instrumental flight rules in German airspace each year, continued “we have been managing such complexity and density in central Europe for many years and believe that further improvements in air traffic are not possible in a single nation’s airspace”. He outlined key steps involved in modernising air traffic management infrastructures.

Achim Baumann, DFS regional manager in the Gulf region, provided a perspective on airspace management in the Gulf region taking into consideration the consequences of large infrastructure projects, such as Dubai World Central’s Al Maktoum International Airport, which will have six runways in its final stage. He pointed out that common challenges in the Gulf region were fragmented airspaces, restricted areas close to the airports and technical systems used.

Another expert of the German State-owned company under private law, Michael Morr, who is head of the DFS fast-time simulation department, talked about further aspects of airspace management: Morr outlined new strategies and tools for the best possible use of airspace and how fast-time simulations can be used in planning processes as well as in existing environments. On 4 June, Hans de Jong, safety manager and senior consultant at DFS, will point out methods to identify “unimaginable and imaginable” hazards to air transport operations.

DFS advises organisations from all over the world on air traffic management matters. The organisation’s know-how is based on the management of the complex and high-density air traffic area in Germany. By optimising the entire airspace structure in Germany, DFS enhanced the capacity by 30 percent, enabled direct flight paths, reduced complexity and improved the distribution of traffic flows. DFS also integrated military and civil air traffic control, based on a concept of flexible use of airspace. The company places particular emphasis on emerging markets, such as the Gulf region and the Asia-Pacific region.