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.

When we first introduced Time Based Separation for Heathrow arrivals back in 2015, we knew it was going to make a major difference to the airport’s resilience during strong headwinds, but the results in practice have surpassed our original expectations.

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It’s usually the first question that leaves people’s lips whenever we show them the new digital tower facility at Swanwick – is it really safe?

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The airspace above London and the South East is some of the busiest and most complex in the world, so it might come as a surprise to know that a core part of the way air traffic is managed in this airspace currently still relies on pen and paper…

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Over the past few weeks we have highlighted the issues associated with airspace infringements including the significant impact they can have on controller workload, the necessary avoiding action, delays and cost that can result to other pilots following an incident.

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It’s been four months since we launched Airspace Explorer, our flight tracking and airspace education app that’s available for free on iPad, and our first major update has just gone live.

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The Government recently published its response to the consultation it ran on the safe use of drones in the UK. The headline announcement is the plan to introduce mandatory registration for drones over 250 grams in weight, as well as mandatory competency testing to support it.

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Following a study by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, which reports that only 9% of the UK’s engineering and technology workforce are women, we wanted to act. Last week we welcomed almost 60 teenage girls to NATS as part of our first Bring Your Daughter to Work Day.

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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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