In the tower, Achim Wildenauer sits between DFS and the airport's ramp controllers. Their staff do not see one another in everyday operations, but are always working hand in hand. Before pilots leave the ground in Munich, they've heard at least four different voices from the tower on their headsets. First: an aerodrome coordinator with DFS, who checks whether the aircraft is on the flight schedule and its scheduled departure time is still valid before giving clearance for the route and permission to start the engines. Then the pilot switches frequency and is heard by the ramp controllers, 10 meters lower down in the tower.
Here, on level 90, two employees control the traffic on the western ramps. The pilot, who previously spoke to the aerodrome coordinator and now wants to leave the park position, says "ready for pushback". At the same time, two other aircraft are requesting clearance.
This calls for the utmost concentration. One plane has to taxi to the southern runway and the one next to it to the northern runway, while an aircraft that has just landed is taxiing toward the terminal building. The ramp controller has to decide instantly in which order to direct the aircraft and how to route them. Because: »Flight operations not only have to be safe, but also orderly and quick,« explains Jens Bartels, a ramp control manager. As soon as the pilot reaches one of the bridges to the taxiway, the next instruction comes to change frequency. Now DFS is in charge again, and Mathias Andlinger's voice is on the pilot's headset. As a supervisor, he is actually positioned in the middle of the glass turret, maintaining contact to the DFS central office and other authorities. But now he is standing in for a colleague who is heading off for the mandatory break taken once every two hours. Andlinger takes over the position of the taxiing controller who guides the aircraft along the taxiways to the runway. "You are number two behind an Embraer Jet," he tells the pilot, explaining the departure sequence. This is not based solely on who has been waiting longest. It also depends on such factors as visibility, the next approaching aircraft and how fast a plane can take off. Moreover, two aircraft on the same flight path need to maintain a greater distance. It can sometimes make sense, therefore, to let another plane take off in between. »Our goal is to get the traffic airborne as quickly as possible", says Andlinger.