NATS engineer wins prestigious technology award

25 September 2017

John Wheal, an air traffic engineer for the UKs leading provider of air traffic control services, NATS, has been awarded The Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) Technician of the Year award.

The IET’s scheme recognises the best and brightest technicians, aiming to raise the profile of the good work that apprentices and technicians contribute to engineering businesses.

John was nominated for the award because of the key role he played in ‘Springboard’; a test and development cloud-based infrastructure platform which is used to host a range of Air Traffic Management (ATM) applications.

The Springboard platform is a major milestone on the way to NATS deploying a joint aviation initiative called SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research), which aims to modernise European air traffic management systems so they’re fit for the 21st century. SESAR’s vision sees aircraft flying their preferred trajectories without being constrained by airspace configurations in the future, and Springboard is the first version of the infrastructure platform that will host the necessary technology to achieve this.

He said: “It is a complete surprise and a real honour to win this highly-regarded industry award.

“Since joining NATS I have been able to build on the technical knowledge that I learnt in my degree course and apply it to a real-world problem in a unique, safety critical environment. I look forward to seeing ‘Springboard’ progress and getting started on my next project.”

John joined NATS’ Engineering Graduate Scheme in 2016 after completing his Masters degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Portsmouth and has since been a NATS representative at various industry events; encouraging youngsters to consider science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at school.

He was selected as the winner in the Technician category in recognition of his outstanding engineering understanding and ability of work as a role model.

Professor Jeremy Watson CBE, IET President, said: “This award recognises professionally registered technicians, whether in the engineering, technology or education support sectors. In winning this award, John has demonstrated exceptional commitment to engineering.

“Whilst doing this, he has also proven himself to be an excellent role model for engineering and is a very worthy winner of this prize.”

Find out more about the Technician Awards here:










Pictured: John Wheal.


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