Cross-border collaboration and multi-agency working is now a necessity in the world of Air Traffic Management as we work towards delivering a Single European Sky (SES).

NATS, working closely with our UK-Ireland Functional Airspace Block (FAB) partners, has just project managed the delivery of a landmark cross-border trial in support of one of the next generation of SES concepts.

The Dynamic Sectorisation Operational Trial (DSOT) aims to gather information on efficiencies that could be gained through the concept of dynamic sectorisation – the tactical switching of air traffic services between providers. Airspace is generally broken up into smaller ‘sectors’, which are then managed by controllers at a Control Centre. Being able to pass sectors to alternative centres at specific times, including across borders, has the potential to improve flexibility, resilience and improve efficiency.

This trial has been heralded as one of the most challenging and complex that has been delivered between multiple air traffic authorities.

Control Room

Cross-border projects are only likely to increase in the future.

To deliver this trial into live operation we had to co-ordinate the activities of the UK-Ireland FAB partners, including multiple Military agencies, and ensure that we had evidence that would satisfy two different National Regulatory Authorities that the trial could be carried out safely.

Stakeholder management is critical to the success of any project and a high degree of diligence and care was needed to bring this project into operation. When you have representatives that are not only outside of your organisation but also outside of your country this introduces additional challenges such as different expectations, methods of working and different locations. These are all challenges that will continue to come up in the coming years as cross-border ATM projects become the norm.

The trial has now been in operation for almost 3 months, over a third of its intended duration, and is progressing well. This is testament to the delivery teams who have completed all of the technical updates to the supporting systems to efficiently deploy this trial.

Cross-border projects are only likely to increase in the future. Finding ways to successfully deliver these projects, as we have done with the launching of this trial, will be critical to driving our industry forward.


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