Understanding ATC

When it comes to air traffic control (ATC), our top priority is ensuring the safety of the skies. To achieve this, we sometimes need to implement what are called Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management (ATFCM) measures. Essentially, these measures allow us to manage demand in different parts of the airspace so that traffic levels always remain safe.

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The weekend of the 7th-9th July marked a pivotal moment for aviation. Our Shanwick Oceanic ATC team, based in NATS Prestwick Centre, Scotland, set new benchmarks for Oceanic traffic movements, whilst delivering high levels of efficiency and safety.

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We don’t often find ourselves in the situation when we have to put on regulations – restrict the traffic flows – at airports where we provide the ATC, but it can happen when an unexpected staff illness reduces our Tower team to levels below what they need to operate normal service. Businesses everywhere have to deal with short-notice staff sickness, but it’s especially noticeable for us because it means aircraft can be delayed, or sometimes even diverted to another airport, and that means inconvenience to the airlines and to the travelling public.

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With thunder, lightning and torrential rain also tend come flight delays. Those are often mysteriously put down to ‘air traffic control restrictions’, but what does that mean in reality and why are storms such a headache for air traffic controllers?

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Five months of work resurfacing Stansted’s single runway has been completed two weeks earlier than scheduled. More than 200 engineers and technicians worked 22 weeks of night shifts to make sure the airport’s the 1.9 mile long runway could be fully resurfaced as quickly as possible and with minimal disruption ahead of a busy summer season.

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On 24 June 1948, ground access to the French, British and American zones of Berlin was cut off by the Soviet forces in East Germany. On 26 June, the first airlift flights departed for West Berlin. Over the following fourteen months over two million people were supplied with food, medicine, clothing, fuel, water and any other necessities by air.

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Air Traffic Controller, Nicky Patterson, took some time to make sure that she answered all of your burning questions for all things Air Traffic Control.

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To celebrate Women of Aviation week and Women’s History month, we caught up with some of our air traffic controllers at Prestwick Centre to find out why encouraging more women into aviation is important to them and what inspired them into their roles…

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Our progress so far

I’m sure by the time you are reading this article you will be fully aware that today is International Women’s Day. Marked every year on 8 March, it aims to celebrate women’s achievements and increase visibility, while calling out inequality. This year, International Women’s Day also happens to also coincide with Women of Aviation Week, which aims to address the gender imbalance across our industry.

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We’re now less than a month away from West Airspace Deployment (West) and we are busy finalising preparations for implementation.

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