Redesigning airspace in the UAE

Our first Middle East airspace design contract was carried out in Dubai at what will be the world’s largest international airport.

The UAE Air Force awarded the contract to NATS in 2006 to design terminal airspace around Al Maktoum International Airport, prior to its opening in 2010. This was a challenging project as the airport will eventually have six runways coping with an annual capacity of up to 120 million passengers.

Flexibility for military and civil use

The airspace was designed to offer the flexibility to optimise operations for the new airport and between civil and military traffic – something NATS has expertise in through working closely with the UK MoD.

We worked in collaboration with a number of civil aviation departments within the UAE and the project was very much aligned with our strategy to create partnerships.

Throughout the project, NATS were positioned as an impartial advisor to establish an airspace design that sought to meet the needs of both military and civil airspace users.  Paramount to the final success was a partnership approach to stakeholder management which delivered an agreement between all civil and military stakeholders regarding the use and the final re-designed airspace.

NATS delivered a final design option that demonstrated, through the use of fast time simulation, that simultaneous operations could be safely achieved for 2 runway operations at Al Maktoum through changes to a number of routes, and by using the principles of “Flexible Use of Airspace”.  This was later adopted as the basis for the full airspace  implementation project, undertaken jointly by DANS Dubai and NATS.

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