How does bad weather affect Air Traffic Control?
During periods of adverse weather – such as fog or snow – Controllers at airports must work to ‘low visibility procedures’, which enable airport operations to continue safely. They cover approach, ground movement and departures.
Spacing on approach to airports is increased, so an aircraft can land and clear the runway before a following aircraft is given landing clearance. Aircraft are also more widely spaced when manoeuvring or taxiing at the airport, whether they are arriving or departing.
Where airport aprons and taxiways are contaminated with snow and ice they must be cleared and made safe before they can be used for aircraft movements.
All this means that fewer aircraft can land or depart within a given time, causing delays.
NATS doesn’t close airports – airlines and airports make the decision as to whether it is safe for them to operate. We provide the service should they decide to operate.
Whenever there is adverse weather we work very closely with airlines and airport operators to handle safely as many flights as possible and minimise the disruption.
If passengers are concerned about the effect adverse weather may be having on their flight they should contact their airline which will be able to provide them with the latest information.