Each year, the nation pauses on Armistice Day – 11 November – and Remembrance Sunday for two minutes of silence as a mark of respect for those who have fallen in conflicts around the world since the First World War.
It’s a hugely important part of our national remembrance and as such, helping ensure these periods of silence are as complete as possible is a responsibility we always take hugely seriously.
Working together with airports and airlines, we put in place some operating restrictions immediately before and during, the silences, both as a mark of our respect and to minimise the risk of noise disturbing the many commemorations being held up and down the country.
That includes making sure any aircraft already on approach to an airport can land before the period of silence starts and inviting airlines to avoid pushbacks, start-ups or the ground-running of engines. Arrivals leaving the runway are also asked to taxi on low power in order to keep noise to an absolute minimum.
On Remembrance Sunday itself there will be no flying over the Cenotaph during the period of silence. This is achieved using well-practiced, carefully choreographed procedures, designed by the teams at Swanwick and Heathrow tower.
In practice this means no aircraft overfly a column of airspace within a radius of 2.5 nautical miles of the Cenotaph in Whitehall. This includes fixed wing aircraft, helicopters but also even small balloons, kites, drones and parachutes.
More broadly, we’ve always had a very close relationship with our military colleagues, especially 78 Squadron at Swanwick, and we were honoured to be invited to take part in their commemorations on Friday. This year NATS was also awarded Gold status in the Armed Forces Covenant for the work we proudly do supporting the forces community, including specialist peer support for veterans, extended leave for Reservists and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers, and a company-wide Armed Forces Support Group to bring the whole force community in NATS together.
Helping ensure the nation can remember in silence every Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday is the least we can do.
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