Frank Brenner, director of the business unit control centre of air navigation service provider DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung, traces his choice of career to the tower of Stuttgart airport after growing up in its shadow

What does your job entail and what are your key responsibilities?

As director, I am head of both the technical and operational areas in the business unit control centre at DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung. As such, I am responsible for the safe and efficient provision of en-route control in German airspace, which is carried out by a staff of 2,500 people in four control centres.

Frank Brenner
 © DFS
Brenner: running four control centres employing 2,500 staff

How did you start your career in the aviation business?

I have been an aviation enthusiast since I was a child. You could almost say I grew up in the shadow of the tower of Stuttgart airport, which explains why my desire to become an air traffic controller was present from an early age.

I completed my training as an area, approach and aero­drome controller at the former federal administration of air navigation services (the precursor organisation of DFS). At that time, this training was coupled with studies at the Federal University of Applied Administrative Sciences in Cologne. My operational career began in 1984 as an aerodrome and approach controller in Stuttgart. After that, I held management positions in ANS.

How is your earlier experience helping in your job today?

My operational experience means that I can weigh decisions based on management criteria, while considering their impact on operational processes. To take one example: my operational know-how proved to be a positive asset in my position as head of the crisis centre during the disruptions caused by the volcanic ash. It meant that the necessary decisions could be made quickly and comprehensively. In my position it is vital that you can speak the language of air traffic control. It is a clear advantage, actually a must, to be able to communicate eye to eye with customers about changes to procedures, direct routeings, noise abatement and so on.

What challenges do you face?

Presently, it is the shortage of operational staff and we are tackling this problem by expanding our internal training. We are also taking a new course by recruiting fully qualified air traffic controllers worldwide. As regards the air traffic management environment in Europe, a further challenge is the development of an ATS system based on 4-D trajectory. We are working towards this goal through intermediate steps and we are upgrading our systems step by step.

In the middle of July we introduced our paperless strip system throughout the first control centre in Bremen. Paper flight progress strips have been replaced with an electronic display. The existing system was upgraded with the necessary PSS hardware and software. The Munich control centre is next in line.

What is the impact of your daily work on the future of aviation and air traffic control?

As I have already mentioned, we are laying the ground for a uniform European system environment at a very advanced level. This is the foundation on which we can ensure the required safety and capacity for the expected increase in air traffic. In parallel, we are endeavouring to make aviation more efficient and more environmentally friendly by developing new procedures.

Source: Flight International