The recent deployment of EXCDS in to the London Terminal Control operation at NATS represents the successful culmination of nearly three years of collaboration between NATS and NAV CANADA on the project.

As mentioned in previous blog posts in August and September, paper strips have been used for many years at the Terminal Control centre located in Swanwick – and in air traffic management around the world – to record information for controllers, such as where an aircraft is heading, the speed they’re travelling, the instructions they’ve been given, together with airport and gate data.

NAV CANADA’s electronic flight strips system, known as NAVCANstrips, or EXCDS, takes information that was previously printed and hand-written on paper flight strips, and provides immediate online access via touch screens. The installation in the London Terminal Control centre included the EXCDS system and 72 touch-screen terminals.

With NATS handling all system testing and training, and NAV CANADA managing the software customization and delivery, for the past 24 months we have effectively worked as one team to ensure the system was ready to go live in November last year.

Close collaboration between the teams through the early feasibility and definition phases allowed us at NAV CANADA to understand NATS’ high-level requirements to ensure EXCDS met their unique needs. From Ottawa, we then made all the software updates to satisfy NATS’ human-machine interface requirements (the part of EXCDS that controllers interact with).

One element that controllers can be sure of is that the technology is a proven, mature system that provides efficient management and use of complex airspace to maximize airport capacity. In fact, NATS was an early adopter of the system, and EXCDS is already in use at 10 of the UK’s busiest air traffic control towers.

The technology has been in full operational use by NAV CANADA for 19 years and today it is used by thousands of controllers worldwide, including some of the world’s busiest airports. It is now deployed at operational sites in Europe and North America and the Middle East.

It was a pleasure to once again work with NATS and their operations and engineering teams to successfully integrate the EXCDS system into their busy and complex operational environment. NAV CANADA has a long history of collaboration with NATS on numerous fronts, and we continue to work in partnership on various technology projects for tower, terminal and oceanic control.

We look forward to continuing to collaborate with NATS by supporting the program through maturation, enabling the rest of the sectors to be fully operational by mid-2018 and by providing technical support and enhancements over the next several years.


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simon green

Having worked on the LTC EXCDS project from the start, I can say that it has been intense but very rewarding in a professional sense. The collaboration between the companies to produce / integrate and deploy a successful Electronic Flight Strip System has been key to the success. Long may it continue.

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