Press Update: June 2010

28 June 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.

UK air traffic declines by 5.9 per cent in May

Figures show a 5.9% decrease in the number of flights in UK airspace in May 2010, compared with May 2009. Air traffic levels last month were affected by airspace closures due to volcanic ash and by British Airways strikes. Airborne ash from the Icelandic volcano caused cancellations of flights throughout the month, especially in Scotland and Northern England and Ireland, with a second period of significant airspace restrictions in UK airspace occurring on the 16th and 17th of May. The BA strikes, which took place on 24th to 28th May and 30th May to 3rd June, also caused a number of flights to be cancelled.

All centres and markets experienced a decline in traffic last month. However flights to/from Eastern Europe and the Middle East/Asia/Africa experienced positive growth of 0.6% and 1.4% respectively.

May 2010 May 2009 % gr 2010 to Date 2009 to Date % gr
UK FLIGHTS 185,270 196,806 -5.9% 799,529 877,576 -8.9%
Swanwick 160,230 170,531 -6.0% 689,313 755,092 -8.7%
Prestwick 74,764 83,643 -10.6% 323,451 368,743 -12.3%
London Area Control 153,176 162,615 -5.8% 654,471 717,086 -8.7%
London Terminal Control 105,585 110,781 -4.7% 466,954 504,832 -7.5%
Manchester Area Control Centre 39,653 45,328 -12.5% 170,374 196,044 -13.1%
Scottish Area Control Centre 44,819 49,066 -8.7% 198,186 223,229 -11.2%
Oceanic Area Control Centre (Shanwick) 29,889 34,503 -13.4% 144,103 155,351 -7.2%
Transatlantic Arrivals/Departures 10,610 10,963 -3.2% 46,084 49,824 -7.5%
Transatlantic Overflights 15,276 16,857 -9.4% 67,540 73,843 -8.5%
Other Arrivals/Departures 115,886 121,290 -4.5% 487,128 530,477 -8.2%
Other Overflights 8,328 9,756 -14.6% 36,817 44,318 -16.9%
Domestic 33,986 37,609 -9.6% 159,301 176,971 -10.0%

Aberdeen switches to electronic flight strips

Aberdeen airport controllers are now using electronic flight progress strips for approach, take-off and landing and en route air traffic.

Other airports, including Edinburgh and Heathrow have already converted to the electronic, touch-screen application to replace the traditional paper strips. The system, providing 13 controller work positions, is the largest EFPS system in use at NATS’ airports.

Much of the traffic managed by Aberdeen is helicopter traffic servicing the North Sea oil industry, both in the northern and southern North Sea, as well as conventional, fixed-wing air traffic. It is handled by the team of 68 controllers and support staff.

Fuel-saving separation launched over North Atlantic

NATS is collaborating with Canadian air traffic controller NAV CANADA to introduce new separation standards for aircraft travelling over the North Atlantic.

Instead of ten minutes, aircraft with the right equipment will be enabled to fly five minutes apart. They can do this by using Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Contract (ADS-C) to make automatic position reports.

Initially, just flights heading towards the UK in the Gander and Shanwick sectors will be offered the service and are expected to be able to save fuel and CO2 emissions. The project, called Reduced Longitudinal Separation Minima (RLongSM), is expected to be rolled out in full late next year.

Air traffic controller awarded MBE for trade union work

An air traffic controller has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for services to trade unions at NATS.Bob Neville was a representative for the controllers’ union, Prospect, and a member of the Branch Executive Committee. Recently retired, he is much praised by colleagues for the knowledge, expertise and constructive approach he brought to industrial relations.


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