DFS Introduces a New Generation of Flexible Use of Airspace

3 October 2013

More airspace for general aviation due to the elimination of military reserved airspace.

The flexible use of airspace (FUA) concept has been successfully applied in Germany since 1996. The concept was originally developed by the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL) in cooperation with civil and military experts from many European States. The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) in agreement with the Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg) approved it for use in parts of German airspace in a slightly adapted form. Civil and military customers and airspace users have since been more than satisfied with this concept. Since 2003, the German Bundeswehr and DFS have tested Military Variable Profile Area (MVPA) procedures as a further development of this concept. 

This airspace offers significantly more flexible and dynamic procedures for joint civil-military airspace utilisation than the original European FUA concept. Military training operations take place in a flexibly located airspace which is tailored to the relevant activities and which takes the general traffic situation into account. The objective is to provide training areas that are of adequate size and tailored to the needs of military airspace users, while, at the same time, keeping any airspace restrictions for civil aviation at a minimum. 

In addition to tailoring airspace to the specific user requirements, the relatively rigid time schedules of the European FUA process (between airspace reservation, publication of restrictions and actual use) have become more flexible. Owing to the fact that the procedures had trial operations status in northeastern Germany (MVPA North-East), the Temporary reserved Airspace ED-R (TRA) 206/306 of the German Air Force had so far been kept as a back-up option. Now that trial operations have been successfully concluded, regular operations can take place. A new restricted area ED-R (VPA) (Restricted Area Europe/Germany – Variable Profile Area) has been established and will be published accordingly. The dimensions of the published airspace may look very large at first sight, but it must be kept in mind that only smaller segments of it will normally become active. In contrast to the old one, the new restricted area ED-R (VPA) 401 will have flexible boundaries between FL100 and FL660. 

ED-R (TRA) 206/306 will no longer be maintained. This means that more airspace will be available to general aviation below FL100, since the lower limit of ED-R (TRA) 206 used to be FL80, whereas the new ED-R (VPA) 401 has FL100 as its lower limit. The individual modules of the training airspace will in future also be taken into account in the air traffic flow management systems of EUROCONTROL (Network Operations), in particular, for optimising routes of civil commercial flights. 

Although military air traffic has declined by 30% within the last decade and only has a small share of the total traffic volume, new technologies and procedures require relatively large training areas for the individual training scenarios. The overall duration of airspace utilisation, however, has been significantly reduced. The introduction of the ED-R (VPA) training areas responds to the challenge of offering new high-performance military aircraft enough airspace for efficient training while at the same time maximising the availability of this airspace for civil air traffic. 

The exemplary cooperation between the German Air Force and DFS as well as the support of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) have made it possible to implement this concept. It is unique worldwide and a significant improvement over current European practice. For this reason, DFS has introduced this approach in the Single European Sky ATM Research Programme (SESAR) of the European Commission within the scope of the Advanced Flexible Use of Airspace concept.





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