Press update: February 2010

16 February 2010


Welcome to the NATS Press Update, a monthly bulletin of news from the UK’s leading air traffic services provider.

The guiding principle of air traffic control is that safety is paramount. Our objective is to maintain and, where practicable, improve standards to achieve the highest levels of safety performance. The whole structure and culture of NATS is built around safety.

Within this safety driven environment, we deliver an efficient, effective service to our customers, directing over 2.4 million flights and 220 million passengers safely through some of the busiest and most complex airspace in the world each year.

Princess Royal opens new NATS air traffic control centre for Scotland

HRH the Princess Royal formally opened the new Prestwick Centre, which controls 42 per cent of the annual 2.2m flights in the UK’s controlled airspace. Controllers managing Oceanic, Manchester, Scottish and military airspace have already made a seamless move into the £180m centre, which handles more air space than any other European control centre.

NATS Chief Executive Paul Barron said: “Many people have worked very hard over the course of this project to ensure everything is delivered on time, under budget and with minimum disruption to the service we provide to the airlines.”

NATS Leadership moves

NATS is delighted to announce that Richard Deakin, Senior Vice President, Air Systems Division, Thales Group, will succeed Paul Barron, who has completed a highly successful six years as CEO. Richard’s appointment comes into effect on 1 April 2010.

NATS wishes Gretchen Burrett the very best in her new role as Group Director, Safety Regulation at the CAA. Gretchen has been with NATS’ for ten years and Director of Safety for the last four. During this time she has enabled NATS to be truly pro-active in safety, driving changes that have benefitted those flying in both controlled and uncontrolled airspace. Her successor will be announced in due course.

Software solution sorts out similar-sounding callsigns

NATS computer specialists have devised a new tool to make sure that similar sounding aircraft callsigns can be detected and changed.

A callsign – the sequence of letters and numbers by which a flight is identified is automatically generated by computer. The new application highlights when two similar callsigns are likely to be operating in the same airspace sector and suggests an alternative.

Developed together with some of our airline customers, the application will be shared free-of-charge with any airline which wants to benefit from the automated check-and-change.

Last year, NATS managed more than 2.2m aircraft in controlled airspace and this cost-effective innovation is a further advance in UK airspace safety.

Aware device – now available!

Aware, the GPS-based positional awareness tool launched by NATS and Airbox in December, is now available for delivery. The device, which uses ICAO charts on a moving map and alerts pilots when approaching controlled airspace or other obstacles, retails for £149 (inc. VAT). By keeping pilots aware of airspace boundaries, this low cost instrument is designed to help keep the skies safe for commercial and recreational aviation.

Annual traffic figures

The number of flights controlled by NATS during 2009 declined 9.6 per cent compared to the total for 2008. Controllers managed 2,200,326 flights in UK airspace last year against 2,433,946 in 2008. The number of UK flights for the last month of 2009 was down 6.5 per cent compared to December 2008.
NATS’ delay performance, however, showed marked improvement. In 2009, NATS brought down the average delay per flight attributable to air traffic control to 4.6 seconds, with 99.5 per cent of flights receiving no NATS-attributable delay at all. This compares with 21.9 seconds delay per flight in 2008 and 98 per cent of flights having no delay.

Measuring simulation emissions

In a step forward for sustainable airspace design, NATS Research & Development department has completed a project to introduce environmental Key Performance Indicators into Real Time Simulators. Based on NATS’ purpose-built emissions measurement tool, KERMIT (Kerosene Emissions Research Model including the Terminal Manoeuvring Area), emissions data can now be immediately captured from airspace simulations, which can be used to calculate the environmental impact of potential new airspace designs.

This method of extracting emissions data could allow NATS to speed up the analysis process and may eventually lead to a turn-key operation, where improvement recommendations could be made and trialled before the completion of a simulation.


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