Next year is going to be a big one for Scotland and Glasgow – and the airport along with the NATS air traffic control operation is gearing up for it.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games will see thousands of athletes and spectators flocking to Glasgow for the festival of sport – with many of them arriving by air into one of the UK’s busiest airports.

Gary Dixon

Gary Dixon – NATS ATC General Manager at Glasgow

NATS ATC General Manager at Glasgow, Gary Dixon was at London City Airport during the London 2012 Olympic Games so his first hand knowledge and experience will prove invaluable as the Commonwealth Games get closer.

“These are exciting times for us here at Glasgow,” said Gary.

“I experienced the willingness for people to adapt and make short-term changes to ensure a smooth and successful operation last time around. I have no doubt that I will see that willingness to adapt here too.”

There are around 13 significant projects in hand to be delivered before the Commonwealth Games as Glasgow continues to adapt to further enhance the service it provides to the airport and the airline operators.

They have had marked success with increasing the number of continuous descent approaches (CDAs) into Glasgow so that aircraft burn less fuel and reduce emissions. Currently around 55 per cent of arrivals use CDAs but there is a push to get that number up to 75 per cent in the short term.

“That requires buy-in from all the operators,” said Gary. “We have got some of the big carriers on board and we now need to spread that a bit more widely.”

The terrain is one of the biggest challenges facing controllers at Glasgow with aircraft descending over nearby mountains to the runway.

The broad mix of traffic handled also keeps the operation varied – from a 757 and a 767 through to Twin Otter flights during the tourist season.

But the close proximity of Glasgow Airport to its neighbour Edinburgh provides a significant level of complexity – especially if Glasgow is on easterly operations and Edinburgh happens to be on westerlies.

“We speak to Edinburgh a lot each day and there is a very strong bond between the two ATC units,” added Gary.

With direct flights to the United States and two aircraft travelling to Dubai daily Glasgow is getting busier and that will build to a crescendo when the spotlight shines on the city in 2014.

Meet Gary
Hear Gary discuss the challenges and opportunities that managing the air traffic service at Glasgow Tower brings in our video below:


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