Airports

Last week NATS took over the air traffic control service at Gatwick Airport after an absence of six years and our first priority is to get more controllers into the operation.

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Despite being a fairly regular occurrence in the world of aviation, an aircraft failing to land and trying again is always seen as something quite scary and dramatic when it’s spoken about in the media.

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Engineering the future

It’s been over a year since London City Airport successfully transitioned to a digital tower and began controlling flights from a brand-new remote-control centre, based in Swanwick… but how have our engineering teams found it adapting to support and deliver this new technology?

We recently spoke to Graham Lewis, Deputy Service Manager, Swanwick Engineering team, to find out. 

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Back in 2019, we announced that we were working in partnership with Leidos and Canadian air traffic service provider, NAV CANADA, to deliver our Intelligent Approach tool for Toronto Pearson International Airport. But delivering a big project like this is never entirely straightforward and doing it during a global pandemic is even less so.

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This week sees the glorious return of Farnborough International Air show, a biennial event which showcases a blend of trade stands and air displays. After an unplanned four-year hiatus when Covid cancelled the 2020 event, this year’s show is extra special.

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Giving an engineer a RADAR to train on is akin to giving a real-life Ferrari to a Scalextric fan.  That’s what NATS Training Services did for Liverpool and Doncaster engineers. When the airports asked if we could provide a representative RADAR for the training course, the answer was a resounding yes. 

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You might have spotted the Heathrow air traffic control tower on TV recently in the BBC’s new show – ‘The Airport: Back in the Skies’. Presented by the original 90’s ‘Airport’ series star Jeremy Spake, the five-part documentary series looks at how the aviation industry at Britain’s busiest airport managed through the most challenging time in its history.

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It’s now more than a year since London City Airport successfully transitioned to a digital tower and began controlling flights from a brand-new remote-control centre, based in Swanwick.

Now, instead of sitting in a physical tower based at London City Airport, a dedicated team of controllers manage the runway through sixteen high-definition cameras and sensors mounted on a mast, capturing a 360-degree view of the City Airport airfield.

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Increasingly, its technology that is allowing airports to unlock the next level of capability and performance, something that will be increasingly important for the Greater Bay Area as the Chinese government aims to grow the region into a world-leading transportation hub.

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I’m finding in conversations with airport operations directors around the world, is that they’re looking at ways to enable future growth, but in a way that reflects our current reality.

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