NATS and Airbox Launch Aware GPS Device to Help Pilots Avoid Controlled Airspace

14 December 2009

The Aware project began with the concept of a simple, affordable airspace alerting and positional awareness device that could be regularly updated with the latest airspace information.NATS and Airbox have collaborated on the research and development, concentrating on producing a unit that addresses the main causes of airspace infringement, namely uncertainty of position and lack of awareness of airspace and airspace changes.

It is expected that the device, with a screen size of 4.3 inches, which retails at £149 (including VAT), will become an essential part of every General Aviation pilot’s kit. Each unit comes loaded with ICAO 1:500,000 charts for the UK and the NATS airspace database, the definitive airspace database for the UK.

“The integrity of the NATS data is second to none,” explained Airbox technical director William Moore, “and combined with Airbox’s advanced GPS engine and a very low price point, we believe that this tool will make a significant contribution to flight safety in the UK.”

One of the main advantages of the Aware system is that pilots can keep the airspace definition in their units up to date at no cost, by downloading free monthly updates from www.airspaceaware.com. Data on the site is updated in conjunction with AIRAC cycle updates to the UK AIP. Users who are subscribed will also receive e-mail alerts on significant changes to airspace.

Using the NATS airspace database, the Aware system is able to take full account of aircraft position and altitude in relation to controlled airspace, so that the pilot only receives alerts that are relevant to the altitude. The system will also alert pilots to relevant navigational hazards such as aerials based on altitude.

“Infringements into controlled airspace are a serious safety concern for private and commercial pilots. In the complex airspace over the UK, it is imperative that all aircraft respect airspace boundaries so we can all share the sky safely.” said Gretchen Burrett, Director of Safety for NATS. “By keeping pilots conscious of nearby airspace boundaries as they fly, Aware helps pilots to steer clear of accidental infringements. NATS is proud to have been involved with this project which we believe will be a major asset for airspace safety.”

The device is designed to be inexpensive, effective and very simple to use straight out of the box. Both NATS and Airbox hope that it will appeal to pilots who are not currently flying with GPS. It does not replace map and compass navigation, but rather supplements it by aiding a pilot’s situational awareness.

Aware will be available in early 2010. Preorders can be made at www.airspaceaware.com.

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