NATS Blog

Here our people share their insights, views and expertise on the world of Air Traffic Management. We cover a broad range of topics from discussing technology and practices today to sharing visions of a potential tomorrow.

Airspace infringements by General Aviation pilots entering controlled airspace remain the biggest risk to the air traffic operation and they are becoming a daily occurrence in the summer months. An infringement occurs when an aircraft enters a volume of airspace without gaining permission, and they can have a huge impact on the system causing aircraft to be diverted, put into holds or held on the ground.

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Earlier this year, in a meeting with aviation industry executives at the White House, President Donald Trump called the U.S air traffic arrangements “obsolete”. Perhaps surprising to his many critics, he’s actually not alone in his thinking as the majority of airlines agree with his plans to liberalise and even privatise the country’s air traffic control organisation.

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I haven’t met any aviators who don’t think Pre-Flight Planning is important, although I have met quite a few who have been caught out by not doing enough of it at some point in their flying life – including myself.

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The closure of Gatwick airport’s runway on Sunday, as a result of a drone flying in the way of arriving aircraft, has prompted further debate about how we deal with the growing number of drones in the skies….

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Frequency Monitor Codes (FMCs) have now been in use in the UK for over 10 years and they’ve collected a range of names during that time such as Listening Squawks and Monitor Codes but they are all actually referring to the same thing.

Pilots are encouraged to use a FMC when they are flying outside controlled airspace, but close to controlled airspace boundaries, in order to increase situational awareness and help to combat infringements.

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Excitement is building in the aviation industry around digital ‘remote’ towers and the benefits they can offer to airports; from costs savings through to safety and operational enhancements. But I can tell you from hard experience that this wasn’t always the case.

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Sunday’s incident at Gatwick, where a drone spotted on the airport’s final approach path caused the runway to be closed for two separate periods, has understandably received a lot of press coverage. The incident caused significant knock-on effects for air traffic control, beyond just stopping arrivals while the runway was closed and caused serious disruption in the sky above southern England.

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I was delighted last week to see Eamonn Brennan elected to run Eurocontrol, the Europe-wide coordinating body for air traffic control. He takes over in 2018 and is no doubt already working out what his priorities will need to be – because there are a lot.

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Both London and Scottish Flight Information Services (FIS) provide assistance to General Aviation (GA), Military and Commercial Aircraft within the Class G airspace, outside of controlled airspace, covering the whole of the UK. Pilots don’t have to call and use the service, but here’s some information on why we think you should consider it….

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This past weekend, an enthusiastic team from Searidge Technologies and NATS participated in the first ever international airport {Re} Coding Aviation event in Berlin at hub:raum, a Deutsche Telekom incubator.

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