skyguide (in full German: Schweizerische Aktiengesellschaft für zivile und militärische Flugsicherung, English Swiss Air Navigation Services Ltd.) is the air navigation service provider which manages and monitors Swiss airspace. Skyguide is a joint-stock company under Swiss private law which is responsible, on behalf of the Swiss Confederation, for ensuring the safety of all Swiss airspace and of adjoining airspace areas in Germany, Austria, France and Italy that have been delegated to its control. For Swiss airspace, this duty extends to both civil and military air navigation services. Skyguide is subject to the supervisory authority of the Swiss Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC). Its principal shareholder is the Swiss Confederation, which holds 99.91% of the company’s share capital.
In 2001, its name was changed from Swisscontrol to skyguide (officially written in lower case). Skyguide is supervised by the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC). The main shareholder, with 99.91 percent of the skyguide share capital is the Swiss Confederation, which is also represented on the board of directors. Around 1400 people work for skyguide, about two-thirds of them in the provision of air navigation services, a quarter in technical services and the rest mainly in administration. Since 1 October 2007, skyguide has been managed by Daniel Weder. Skyguide is headquartered in Meyrin, near Geneva.
Skyguide’s most important partners are the Swiss Air Force, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Eurocontrol (European organisation for aviation safety) and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO). Skyguide has had a subsidiary company in Belgium since the end of 2000 called Skynav, which serves as a link to the European Union.
Collaborations in Europe
Europe’s airspace is highly fragmented today. The Single European Sky (SES) project of the European Commission is intended to harmonise the continent’s air traffic management systems and, in doing so, enhance the efficiency of the overall airspace structure.
One prerequisite for doing so is the creation of a series of large integrated airspace blocks. Further efforts are being geared to tailoring airways more closely to users’ requirements, rather than basing them on national borders. Europe’s airspace needs this kind of reorganisation if it is to cope with the further traffic growth projected over the next few years.
Functional Airspace Block Europe Central (FABEC) is one of nine new “functional airspace blocks” to be created in Europe. FABEC will control 55% of all the air traffic handled in Europe, or around 5.3 million flights a year. The six FABEC member states (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland) signed the corresponding international agreement in December 2010, laying the legal foundation for the new airspace entity.
Skyguide is responsible for the management of civil aviation in Switzerland. The air surveillance is the responsibility of the Swiss Air Force with their primary radars can also detect flying objects without a transponder signal. One distinctive feature of which is the military aviation aircraft of the Swiss Air Force is led by employees of Skyguide. These employees have completed the training for civilian air traffic controller / controllers and verify that training regularly in the ICAO standard tests, but they have in addition to training a civilian military-aviatic, completed tactical training. Normally, they work as a civilian employee with the military personnel, if required (e.g. WEF Davos) they work in the military operation in the officer rank (like Captain or so one). The military sector of Skyguide is also responsible for the conduct of business of the company Pilatus Aircraft flights. Skyguide managed Swiss airspace dynamically together with the Swiss Air Force, that is, when the air force their airspace not or only partially requires, and then this released to the civil aviation and skyguide guides by so-called shortcuts in which civilian aircraft can shorten their route through the military airspace . In return, the air force if necessary to restrict civil airspace, this is the rare case of a full military training (e.g. Stabante2011) or, at the regular meetings such as the World Economic Forum in Davos. Depending on requirements, the Skyguide employee of the military division lead fighters in the so-called Cross-Border Areas in France or Italy, that is, military airspaces go beyond the country's borders, and can be used by the air forces of the two countries.
Skyguide in figures
Skyguide managed some 1.16 million instrument flight rules (IFR) flights through its airspace in 2010 – an average of around 3,200 flights a day – and generated total annual operating revenue of over 365 million Swiss francs. Switzerland’s air navigation service provider currently employs around 1,400 personnel spread over 14 locations throughout the country. Two-thirds of them are in air navigation services, around a quarter are in technical functions and most of the rest hold administrative positions. 
Skyguide’s main operating locations are its two operations centres, one next to Dübendorf Air Base in Wangen-Brüttisellen and the other near Geneva Airport. The latter is also home to the company’s administrative head office. The Wangen centre came into operation in February 2009. Geneva is responsible for the western Swiss airspace and the airspace above the French Alps and part of the Italian air space who is located on the border with France. The control center at Dübendorf Air Base was commissioned in February 2009. Wangen is besides the air traffic control center which is responsible for the airspace of the German-speaking Switzerland, Lichtenstein and southern Germany and the NOTAM Office, the Office for creating air traffic messages. At Dübendorf Air Base operates Skyguide also training rooms, 2 tower simulators and training facilities for real-time training of air traffic controllers and other employees from other (foreigen) air traffic companies. In the same building in Dübendorf Air Base is also the operations center of the Air Force. Skyguide maintains further operations at Bern (Belp), Buochs, Grenchen, Lugano (Agno) and St.Gallen-Altenrhein regional airports, and at numerous all-military or joint civil/military airfields. These include Alpnach, Dübendorf, Emmen, Locarno, Meiringen, Payerne and Sion. At Les Eplatures regional airport, the air traffic services have been delegated to the airport operator. In accordance with the regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), all instrument flight rules (IFR) and visual flight rules (VFR) traffic in Switzerland is handled in English and French.
Above the town Boppelsen ZH, on the Jura mountain range "Hochwacht" and on the "La Dôle" the Skyguide operates on each a secondary radar station for air traffic management, also one of the FLORAKO secondary radars of the Swiss Air Force fed more tracks in to Skyguides Air Traffic Control system, The Swiss Air Force can switch to another FLORAKO secondary radar to provide skyguide with data if needed. In Kloten and Geneva Skyguide operates combined primary and secondary radars for the approach and departure control.
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In 1922 the Swiss made an agreement with wireless telegraph. Marconi Radio AG, the Swiss subsidiary, opened on 23 February that year for the development of wireless telegraphy, after the First World War had demonstrated the significance of this kind of telecommunication. On 10 May 1928, the name of Marconi Radio AG was changed to Radio Schweiz AG (RSAG) to emphasise its Swiss national character. On 1 January 1931, the Confederation charged the RSAG with the provision of air navigation services in Switzerland.
Until the end of the Second World War, RSAG was primarily engaged in serving the telegraphic communications needs of the Confederation. Only on 21 December 1948, after concluding an agreement with the Confederation under which the Confederation and the airports would bear the cost of air navigation services, did RSAG start to monitor the airspace.
On 1 January 1988, RSAG’s air navigation activities were restructured and brought into the new nationalised company, Swisscontrol, whose headquarters is in Bern. Swisscontrol was converted into a public limited company in 1996 and the headquarters transferred from Bern to Meyrin.
At the beginning of 2001, civil and military air navigation services, which had been separate until then, were united in a single company, called skyguide. Skyguide thus became the first air navigation services provider in Europe to control the whole of its country’s airspace.
On 21 September 2005 skyguide became one of Europe’s first air navigation service providers to be certificated companywide to the ISO 9001:2000 norm. In achieving this, skyguide also met the requirement for Single European Sky (SES) certification, which was awarded by the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) about a year later.
On 15 March 2006, BAZL prevented the air navigation services provider skyguide from starting operations in the single control centre for Switzerland, its Upper Airspace Control Center Switzerland (UAC-CH) in Geneva. But the UAC-CH project nevertheless allowed the Geneva upper airspace to be progressiveley operating with 'stripless' environment since 2005. A detailed internal BAZL report was published on 3 April 2006, listing the serious omissions made by skyguide.
Taking into account the lessons-learned after UAC-CH, skyguide plans to extend a stripless harmonized environment over the whole Swiss ACC airspace by end of 2014.
- 2002 Überlingen mid-air collision: On 1 July 2002, a Tupolev Tu-154 of the Russian BAL Bashkirian Airlines (Republic of Bashkortostan) and a Boeing 757 of DHL Express collided at a height of 12,000 meters in southern German airspace over Überlingen on Lake Constance, controlled by skyguide. 71 people died. 4 employees of Skyguide were sentenced by a court. On 24 February 2004, Peter Nielsen, the air traffic controller on duty at the time of the accident, was stabbed to death by Vitaly Kaloyev, who had lost his wife and two children in the accident.
- Nacktes Chaos bei skyguide, BAZL criticises the management of the Swiss air navigation service massively, NZZ on Sunday, 9 April 2006 (German)
- Nacht der Kollision, Night of the collision, What happened on the night of the crash? A record based on exclusive investigation dossiers, Das Magazin, 12 May 2007 (German)
- presentation of Skyguide Air Navigation Service on Skyguide's website
- "Official plan to access Skyguide in Zürich," Skyguide
- "Quick Contacts." Skyguide. Retrieved on 17 February 2012. "Head office skyguide swiss air navigation services ltd Route de Pré-Bois 15-17 P.O. Box 796 1215 Geneva 15 "
- "Access Skyguide at Geneva." Skyguide. Retrieved on 17 February 2012.
- "Plan de commune." Meyrin. Retrieved on 29 September 2009.
- http://www.fabec.eu FABEC
- Functional Airspace Block Europe Central
- Annual Report
- History. Skyguide. Retrieved on 29 September 2009.
- "media release: "Cutover to new single upper airspace area postponed"
- Website of skyguide
- Description of the Air Traffic Controller job at skyguide, Switzerland.
- Air Traffic Controller recruiting page at skyguide, Switzerland.
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This text is a translation from German (de:skyguide)