Air Traffic Management

The summer of 2019 has been record breaking across the European aviation network with a record 37,228 flights handled on 28 June. And the European ATM community has been standing shoulder-to-shoulder to deliver efficient and effective air travel during the region’s busiest period.

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Today is my first anniversary as a Business Management Support Coordinator Apprentice at NATS. I have developed an incredible amount over the last 12 months and feel really proud to be a part of the company.

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Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd provides a vital service for local communities in Scotland. Having a strong, considered and sustainable plan that ensures its airports stay open and viable is at the heart of HIAL’s new ATM strategy, which is why, among other changes to controlled airspace and radar technology, it includes the use of digital control towers.

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Last month my colleague Chris Edwards talked about the transition that’s under way in our London Terminal Control room, where we’re introducing a new digital tool called EXCDS to replace the paper strips currently used by Controllers.

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Over the past few weeks we have highlighted the issues associated with airspace infringements including the significant impact they can have on controller workload, the necessary avoiding action, delays and cost that can result to other pilots following an incident.

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The Government recently published its response to the consultation it ran on the safe use of drones in the UK. The headline announcement is the plan to introduce mandatory registration for drones over 250 grams in weight, as well as mandatory competency testing to support it.

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Navigation at sea is very different to aviation – with the exception of a few very busy traffic management schemes such as those in the English Channel, ships are largely left to depend upon the training of the captain and self-separation. But on the issue of drones, there is absolute agreement – they are already here and are able to deliver substantial benefit to UK plc.

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We are always looking for new ways to challenge and inspire our thinking; part of that involves making sure that our solutions are not limited to a narrow Air Traffic Management (ATM) perspective and are instead considering how knowledge from other disciplines could be applied to ATM.

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Going with the flow…

Flow regulations are used to reduce or slow down air traffic because of things like bad weather, or not enough room on the ground at the destination airport. It’s a decision that’s never taken lightly, but it is always done with safety in mind.

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Last week I was interviewed alongside Kevin Hightower, Aviation Chief Technologist of Lockheed Martin, as part of a live webcast on the concept of Intelligent Approach, including Time Based Separation (TBS) and Pairwise. These are the answers to some of the questions raised during the webcast.

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