Last month we welcomed representatives from the Department for Transport (DfT) and the European Commission’s Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) to our Swanwick Centre to see some of the work we’re doing to modernise our ATM systems as part of the SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) programme.

Aviation is an inherently international business and NATS has always had strong links with our European partners.  The Single European Sky (SES) initiative and our involvement through SESAR has given this cooperation a more tangible form and technical cooperation with our neighbours will remain essential regardless of the political outcomes of the Brexit negotiations.

The conjunction of the SESAR programme’s European ATM Master Plan and the European Union’s “Connecting Europe Facility” has provided an opportunity to demonstrate the extent to which NATS’ own implementation projects tie up with wider European objectives.

Consequently, we’ve been able to secure EU funding to help cover the cost of new infrastructure that will help improve the way we manage air traffic in the UK and contribute to the delivery of the European ATM Master Plan.

Members of DfT and INEA were able to see a number of projects currently in progress with support from INEA funding on their recent visit.

One of the projects which has received funding from the EU is helping us to make better use of satellite navigation technologies to help reduce reliance on ground-based navigation aids and use of valuable radio spectrum. Increasing the use of satellite navigation technologies gives us greater flexibility when designing airspace, reduces the maintenance of costs associated with ground-based navigation beacons and helps to free up radio spectrum which, in part as a result of the growing demand for air travel, is getting increasingly congested.

Another project showcased was one we discussed recently on this blog, the creation of a new Common Operations Room at Swanwick. This will help accommodate new software systems being developed to support the introduction of SESAR concepts such as Trajectory Management and Free Route Airspace.

As a package, the implementation of these concepts will contribute to making both UK airspace, as well as the wider European network, more efficient, better equipped to safely accommodate growing traffic levels and able to offer a better service to our customers and their passengers as our skies get ever busier in the years to come.


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Is there any ATFM system currently in place in EU……or SESAR will be the new ATFM system for EU……..



Patrick Giles

Hi Surendra. There is an ATFM system currently coordinated by Eurocontrol as the European Network Manager. Developments to ATFM are being undertaken within SESAR.


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