Controllers at the Maastricht Upper Area Control Center (Muac) in the Netherlands started handling both civil and military air traffic over northwest Germany this month, bringing to completion an effort to integrate military traffic in German airspace. Forty-eight former employees of German air navigation service provider Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) based at Maastricht have become part of the staff of the Eurocontrol-operated Muac facility, the parties announced.
Muac controllers now manage both streams of traffic in the Hannover Upper Information Region—the airspace above 24,500 feet over northwest Germany. The costs of providing services for military traffic in the Hannover region will be borne by the German defense ministry. “The overarching objectives of the integration are to improve the air traffic management system for the benefit of both civil and military airspace users and to achieve economies of scale for all parties involved,” Eurocontrol said.
Employees of the German armed forces started handling the Hanover flight region from Maastricht in 1975; in 1993 they were incorporated into the DFS unit based there. Following an agreement that Eurocontrol and the German ministry of defense signed last year, 48 DFS employees have joined the staff of the Muac center. The Eurocontrol facility, located at Maastricht Aachen Airport, provides air navigation services for the upper airspace of Belgium, northwest Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
“The integration of operational air traffic in the Hannover Upper Area Information Region continues the tradition of jointly managed air navigation services within Germany,” said Gerd Hoofe, Germany’s state secretary for defense. “Now the last portion of German airspace has been incorporated into this undertaking. I am convinced that this project will achieve substantial efficiency gains not only for German military aviation and operational air traffic in general, but also for civil aviation across Europe.”
The “next significant step” for the Muac, according to Eurocontrol, will be to integrate civil and military air traffic in the upper airspace of the Amsterdam flight information region, which is planned for the first half of this year. In 2012, the Muac started providing air traffic data to the Royal Netherlands Air Force Air Operations Control Station at Nieuw-Milligen and seven air bases under an agreement between Eurocontrol and the Netherlands defense ministry.