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Brendan Kelly






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Last month we launched Airspace Explorer, our flight tracking and airspace education app and as such, I’ve been digging into how our airspace is made up and how it remains the foundation of our aviation industry. Today I’m looking at airspace classifications, the differences between them and what they mean for the people who fly through them.

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NATS manages UK airspace from our two centres – one in Swanwick and the other in Prestwick, Ayrshire – and the air traffic controllers who work there use radar to safely guide aircraft that might be hundreds of miles away.

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Last week we launched Airspace Explorer, our beta app that uses real radar data to track aircraft in the UK. One of the things we want to achieve was to highlight the importance and structure of our airspace – the invisible and hidden road network in the sky in which our controllers manage flows of air traffic.

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If you’re like me, I’m sure you will have read last week’s story about circular runways – The Endless Runway Project – with a huge amount of interest mixed with equal doses of incredulity and admiration.

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On 24 December, UK airspace hosts the most important flight of the year; someone to whom the normal rules of the air do not apply. The person is, of course, Santa Claus.

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We are at the dawn of a third age of air traffic management, a world of airspace systemisation. It means that aircraft will again be separated procedurally, only this time based on technologies unimaginable to those pioneering pilots and controllers of the ‘40s and ‘50s.

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On 24 December each year, UK airspace plays host to a very special visitor, someone to whom the normal rules of the air do not apply – Santa Claus.

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Following the success of our two data visualisations – Europe 24 and North Atlantic Skies – we’ve taken a lot of time to think about where to go next. We are therefore very excited to publish UK 24 – your guided tour to some of what makes UK aviation work.

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You may have heard the announcement made this week at the Farnborough Airshow that a number of locations across the UK are in the running to be the UK’s first spaceport, following a report by the Civil Aviation Authority.

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