COP26: Planning for history

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) came to a close earlier this month and as the UK prepared to host the event in Glasgow, months of logistical planning from our side was coming together as our air traffic controllers geared up for what was a busy few weeks, especially in Scottish airspace and at Scottish airports.

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The clocks have gone back and with that we’re into the winter flying schedule and what are usually the quieter months of the year once the summer season ends. And while the traffic volumes may have followed that annual trend, I’m really encouraged to see that traffic percentages are creeping up … slowly but surely. 

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Friday 12 November is International ATSEP day – which is all about recognising and celebrating our colleagues who help to keep our equipment operational and safe. We took time out to speak to colleagues from around our Technical Services team to find out more about ATSEP, what it means to them and how it affects our business.

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78 Squadron, the Royal Air Force Unit embedded within the NATS Swanwick Centre, held a commemorative parade this week to mark both Remembrance Day and the recent re-formation of No. 78 Squadron. Gus Wells tells us more about the history of 78 Sqn, and how they marked this milestone.

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Earlier this morning, we celebrated the reopening of the US to UK travellers with a spectacular synchronised, parallel take-off from Heathrow, something that’s extremely rare. But why exactly is it so uncommon, and what does it take operationally to pull it off?

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SkyGuardian, a new uncrewed and remotely piloted aircraft, has conducted trial flights in the UK this summer to test the platform and how it can safely integrate into UK airspace. Mark Watson tells us more.

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On this milestone anniversary, we wanted to re-share the stories of two controllers who worked on 9/11 – alongside the incredible account recorded in the London Area Control supervisor’s log book – in commemoration of the victims, and in thanks for all those who worked on that day and every day to help keep the skies safe. 

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Monitoring the performance of our air traffic controllers is an incredibly important part of the work we do to keep our skies safe. In May, we launched the NATS Management of Competence System (or NMOCS), a single evidence-based system which is transforming the way we manage the competence of our controllers. Find out more.

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As you read this, all our existing Altitude episodes are available to listen as your leisure from all the usual podcast libraries, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Amazon Music.

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In this data visualisation, we share an example of a recent infringement at Southampton Airport, to explain how such an incident can have an impact on other airspace activity and users and to help raise awareness in the hope of minimising these occurrences in the coming months.

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