Guardians of the sky

The words air traffic control evoke thoughts of people wearing headphones, looking at screens in control towers and centres keeping our ever busier skies safe.

While technology will continue to allow advances that benefit passengers, airlines, airports and governments, far more compelling for us is to understand how things may fundamentally change in the future. And what the true power of tomorrow’s air traffic management could offer us all.

Like Africa’s mobile phone network that provided a ‘leapfrog’ step in technology so too can safe, efficient and innovative ATC transform a countries economy. Too many nations growth is restricted by transportation deadlock, something a new approach to flying could overcome, connecting people both domestically and internationally more quickly and easily.


The future may see planes operated like buses with passengers able to hop on to the next departure should they miss their planned flight.

Or one better, personal pods you board at your house transfer you to the airport and seamless dock within your plane, you only disembark when the pod delivers you to your ultimate destination. No parking, departure lounges, taxis and collectively far less waiting!

While much debated today, such ideas are a little way off. But they are a small number of concepts we’re looking at for tomorrow. At NATS we’re best known for providing air traffic control in the UK, particularly at London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports, the busiest single and dual runway airports in the world.

Unlike most other ATC service providers we are a privatized commercial company. We are focused on exploring ways to adapt, change and innovate…by visualizing the future we are seeking to inspire and move the industry forward.

We’ve created a short film that asks the watcher to consider us differently and to wonder with us what the future might hold for us…

Can’t see Vimeo? Try YouTube.


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I don’t think anyone would feel safe flying without a pilot. Think of all possibilities that can and do go wrong with technology now.




As a private commercial company you have to ensure that your decisions to innovate and move the industry forward are NOT at the cost of people’s lives that you affect so negatively by concentrating flights at low heights, using new technology.

It’s great that you see yourselves as guardians of the sky, but you must also safeguard those on the ground too. Please remember that, as a simple guiding principle. Just because there is no physical infrastructure in the sky does not mean you can do whatever you like in trialling and re-routing / changing ascent and descent patterns.


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