Leaders in the aviation industry headed to Madrid for the sixth annual World ATM Congress last week to catch up on the latest technologies and conversations in ATC.

Operated by CANSO in partnership with ATCA, the World ATM Congress brings together the world’s leading product developers, experts, stakeholders, and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) at IFEMA over the course of three days.

NATS had a large presence at the event, occupying plot 826 directly in front of the main entrance. Our stand focused on three core themes;

From airport operator to ANSPs, the military to drone pilots, technology is providing new ways to increase flexibility and effectiveness of the flow of aircraft within airspace, even as volume increases. Our interest is how to introduce these advancements in aviation without challenging the primary objective, to keep skies safe…

Many are aware of the concept of the digital tower (if you haven’t then I urge you to read more here), but you may not have actually seen one. As the saying goes, ‘seeing is believing’, so it was an obvious choice for us to use a demonstrator as the main focal point on our stand.

Experts from NATS and Searidge Technologies were on hand to run through the main features and demonstrate the benefits digital towers can offer an airport, from small regional operations to international hub operations. The demonstrator featured nine state-of-the-art monitors showing HD footage from Dubai, Heathrow and Singapore airports.

As in all other aspects of life today, the application of data to allow more informed decisions is becoming very much a part of smart airport operations. At NATS we are working to see how we might aid our customers improve capacity, resilience and efficiency through the application of integrated digital technology and know-how.

In today’s climate, airports and airlines face many challenges – not least the demand to consistently deliver more capacity at lower cost and manage big data. To help deal with these challenges, NATS developed a set of automated tools:

DCB – Demand Capacity Balancing

ACM – Airport Capacity Management

MOS – Mission Optimisation Services

NATS’ drone leads were on point to discuss ‘hot off the press’ news that we have entered a long-term partnership with Altitude Angel to develop unmanned traffic management solutions that can be integrated and interact with conventional air traffic control (full details here). We believe that partnerships like this are essential to enable the safe growth of the drone industry whilst protecting the high levels of safety that exist within the manned aviation industry.…

The increasing popularity of commercial drone operations and the growing number of drone-related incidents makes it essential that we take steps now to create a safe environment for growth. To get the message out there, attendees were invited to try our Drone Run game and, find out more about the Drone Code.

Another aspect of collaboration is the important role NATS plays within the SESAR programme. As part of SESAR’s guided tours, which were new for 2018, NATS educated guests on a range of projects in which we’re heavily involved – including work we are leading to optimise wake separations for departures, the development of tools that will help controllers manage growing traffic levels and plans to improve the flow of traffic entering the airspace over London in order to improve fuel efficiency and reduce noise.

We also presented on successful SESAR deployments within the UK, such as Time-Based Separation at Heathrow (more info here) and the imminent deployment of Enhanced TBS, XMAN (Cross-Border Arrival Management System) for Heathrow and the Point Merge airspace design implemented for London City arrivals.

As well as having a strong presence on stand, NATS employees contributed to a range of speaker slots throughout the event, discussing topics from ‘women in aviation’ to ‘preparing for 2018 summer traffic’.

If you’re interested in any of the products or services mentioned above, we’d be happy to talk to you. Please contact [email protected].


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