Annual Report & Accounts 2019
Dr Paul Golby CBE
This past year has been one of good progress. Our ATCOs safely handled record numbers of aircraft whilst meeting our regulatory safety and flight delay standards. We also came very close to meeting our extremely ambitious internal safety metrics, set at the beginning of the current Reference Period (RP2: 2015-2019), when the forecast growth in number of flights being handled was significantly lower than has been accommodated. The average NATS en route delay per flight for the 2018 calendar year was 12.5 seconds, and this performance was five times better than the average delays experienced elsewhere across Europe.
In 2019 we made excellent progress with our strategic objectives achieving each of the priorities we set for the financial year. Particular highlights for me included: the delivery of a safe and resilient ATC service, every day, against a backdrop of growing traffic and while introducing complex new technology; the positive testing of the infrastructure which will support London City Airport’s future digital tower service; our first use of Aireon’s space-based surveillance system; and the development of an ambitious business plan for RP3 which delivers a balanced set of outcomes for our customers.
We handled 2.54 million flights (2018: 2.52 million) and maintained our safety record. En route delay per flight for the 2018 calendar year was 12.5 seconds (2017 calendar year: 6.2 seconds) and we enabled additional annual fuel savings for airline customers equivalent to 113,700 tonnes of CO2 emission reductions. We responded to the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) draft Reference Period 3 (RP3: 2020-2024) National Performance Plan proposals. In March 2019, we commenced operational trials with space-based ADS-B data in our Oceanic operation. We completed the deployment of electronic flight strips into our Terminal Control (TC) operation. We strengthened our commercial business winning a 10-year contract at Cardiff and St Athan airports as well as providing ATCOs to the Airport Authority of Hong Kong and developing a prototype digital tower for Singapore’s Changi Airport. We invested £51.0m to acquire a strategic minority interest in Aireon, which provides satellite-based air traffic surveillance systems with global coverage capable of tracking and monitoring aircraft in real-time.