NATS announces new TCN consultation

23 February 2009

NATS, the UK’s leading air traffic management company, is to conduct a new consultation on revised proposals to redraw the aircraft route map in the area of south-east England known in airspace terms as Terminal Control North (TCN).

This follows detailed consideration of feedback received during our original consultation in 2008 and from meetings last autumn with local authorities and the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to discuss concerns and options.

The second consultation will be later this year; the date is still to be decided, although it will not be before July. The revised airspace design is still being formulated, tested in simulation and assessed for safety, efficiency and impact on populations.

Alternative design rules for the use of Precision Area Navigation (P-RNAV) technology, which keeps aircraft on the route centre line more precisely than today’s ground-based beacon technology, and which the Civil Aviation Authority requires as the basis for all new airspace design work, means that new options for some routes in the TCN area can now be considered.

NATS’ Director of Operations Ian Hall said: “In some areas we hope to present an alternative route for consideration, to allow a degree of choice for those in the area affected. We are also looking in detail at the precise positions of the holds in the original TCN consultation and whether it is possible to include an alternative option upon which interested parties can offer a view.

“Many people were concerned that the original proposal was ‘a done deal’ and that NATS would not listen to objections.  We have been similarly clear that this was a genuine consultation and that we would listen to the views expressed; this second consultation demonstrates that we did listen, we have taken note and where possible options will be included for consideration.

“However, we are also very clear that doing nothing is not an option – and that the number of options available to us is extremely limited in this airspace, which is some of the most complex and congested in the world.”

Notes to Editors:

·         In the original consultation – which ran from 21 February to 19 June 2008 – NATS received 578 responses from MPs, local authorities, parish councils, environmental groups and other representative bodies. A further 14,647 responses were received from members of the public.  More than a million pages were downloaded from our consultation website.

·         The TCN proposals are not associated with any potential airport developments such as a Stansted second runway or Heathrow third runway; they address existing air traffic management issues in this region. Any future planning approval for an airport development may require further airspace changes which would also be subject to consultation.

·         NATS handled 2.4 million flights in 2008, covering the UK and eastern North Atlantic and carried more than 235 million passengers safely through some of the busiest and most complex airspace in the world.

·         NATS provides ‘en route’ air traffic control and management from the London Control Centre at Swanwick, Hampshire, Scottish and Oceanic Area Control Centre at Prestwick, Ayrshire and the Manchester Area Control Centre located at Manchester Airport.

·         NATS also provides air traffic control services at 15 of the nation’s major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, together with air traffic services at Gibraltar Airport.

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