UK air traffic partners expand relationship

04 March 2015

NATS, the UK-based air traffic control company, and Lockheed Martin, the leading airport and air traffic management (ATM) technology provider, have entered a strategic partnership that strengthens the existing supplier relationship and underlines their commitment to further enable improved efficiency, safety and passenger experience across airports and air traffic systems worldwide.

This partnership comes after the two organisations already announced an extension of the ongoing support agreement for a number of NATS operational systems, as well as a new arrangement that has seen Lockheed Martin UK take on the support of NATS business IT systems.

The increased commitment will be a vital element in supporting NATS’ deployment of the next generation of air traffic control technologies over the coming five years in support of the Single European Sky initiative. The programme will see NATS move to a new technology platform that will improve operational resilience and offer greater service flexibility.


For Lockheed Martin, the collaboration is an additional capability that consolidates its suite of airport and air traffic technology solutions that are key in managing the passenger journey from kerb to cloud.

The partnership will also see NATS and Lockheed Martin combine their significant expertise to offer new and innovative solutions to the global aviation market.

For example, the first manifestation of this closer relationship is the joint development and implementation of Time Based Separation – a new way of separating aircraft on final approach to an airport. In a world first, the system is due to go live at London Heathrow Airport in spring 2015 and is expected to halve delays caused by strong headwinds.

Headwinds on final approach are one of the biggest causes of arrival delay at an airport, where traditional Distance Based Separation causes the landing rate to drop and delays for passengers to mount. Changing to a time based system allows air traffic controllers to dynamically alter the spacing between aircraft based on the current wind conditions, thereby maintaining the landing rate and improving airport resilience.

NATS and Lockheed Martin are now working to showcase the benefits of the technology to airports around the world as part of a suite of products designed to optimise approach operations, many of which will be demonstrated at the forthcoming CANSO World ATM Congress, Madrid and Passenger Terminal Expo, Paris events in 10-12 March.

“As global demand for air travel rises, Lockheed Martin and NATS are continuing to find innovative ways to help improve the passenger experience and ensure that people are able to reach their destinations safely and on time,” said Mark Cooper, UK Managing Director of Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions. “Our new capability will help airports and airlines to maintain capacity during challenging weather periods and reduce the disruption faced by thousands of passengers.”

Tim Bullock, NATS Director, Supply Chain, said: “This partnership builds on our existing strong relationship and the support of our supply chain partners will ensure NATS can continue to meet the high standards of safety and service our customers expect.”

Martin Rolfe, NATS Managing Director Operations, added: “We see our partnership strategy as vital to the successful delivery of our future plans. The partnership between NATS and Lockheed Martin means we can pool our considerable skills, technologies and resources in deploying SESAR technologies over the next five years and deliver new innovative products and services like Time Based Separation, allowing NATS and Lockheed Martin to lead the way at improving airport efficiency and resilience.”


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