Olympic effort is a personal best for NATS

Olympic effort is a personal best for NATS

17 August 2012

Countries next in line to stage the Olympic Games have been approaching UK-based global air traffic solutions company NATS for advice after the success of airspace management and security during London 2012.

NATS handled significant levels of extra traffic during the Games in some of its sectors while reducing delays by 95 per cent when compared to the same period in 2011.

Traffic in the London area was up 3.5 per cent for a number of days, peaking at 4.5 per cent. At the airports, traffic at Farnborough and Biggin Hill rose by 16% and 19% respectively on peak days.

There was just 593 minutes of delay attributable to NATS throughout the whole of the Olympics. That compares to last year’s figure for the same period which was more than 13,000 minutes.

That was in a large part down to close cooperation with Europe’s central network management unit, where NATS seconded staff to help manage the delivery of air traffic into UK airspace.  The team also worked closely with the Irish Aviation Authority to ensure that procedures were coordinated across the UK/Ireland Functional Airspace Block (FAB).

NATS also facilitated the biggest airborne security operation since World War II. The military air traffic control cell operating from the NATS centre at Swanwick in Hampshire provided 24-hour-a-day security surveillance. NATS controllers facilitated the integration of the military operations over London to ensure the minimum delay to civil aviation.

Temporary airspace restrictions were introduced in and around London from 14 July to 15 August. A smaller set of restrictions remain in place for the Paralympic Games.

Officials from air traffic control in Brazil observed much of the NATS operation during the past three weeks as they prepare for Rio 2016. NATS has also had a delegation from Russian air traffic control ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

Martin Rolfe

NATS Managing Director Martin Rolfe said: “In the spirit of the Games, the whole operation came together to make sure that NATS played its part in what was an extraordinarily successful Olympics.

“The years of planning and training certainly paid off and it could not have gone more smoothly.

“As Team GB reflects on its success and considers the legacy of the Olympics, NATS should do the same. There is plenty we can take away from this experience and apply to our day to day operation.

“We have already been approached by countries scheduled to hold the Games in the near future to understand how NATS can support them in the challenges they face.

“Our challenge now will be to make sure the Paralympics runs just as smoothly.”

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