In this blog, Rich Crooks, Manager Airspace Delivery, explains how NATS is progressing the path to modernise UK airspace.
We’re now less than a month away from West Airspace Deployment (West) and we are busy finalising preparations for implementation.
Over the past two years, our Operational Service Enhancement Programme (OSEP) has deployed six tranches of change to airspace across the country, enabling some 30,000 tonnes of CO2 savings annually throughout the European and UK network, equivalent to the emissions from the energy usage of over 8,000 homes.
The Covid pandemic had a huge impact on aviation. Almost overnight the volume of traffic in the UK dropped hugely, by up to 90%. But this also provided an unexpected opportunity to see how we could use the UK’s airspace more efficiently.
Last week, on 2nd December 2021, NATS implemented the biggest airspace change ever undertaken in the UK and introduced Free Route Airspace for the first time into UK skies. It’s an exciting milestone in a project which has been underway for over five years and will enable huge fuel, flight time and CO2 savings. But what is Free Route Airspace (FRA) and what does it mean for airlines?
In a world where aeronautical information changes all the time, it’s important there is a standardised approach to making those changes. One of the management processes that NATS use to make operationally significant changes is ‘AIRAC’. But what is ‘AIRAC’, and why do we use it?
From time to time, you might hear us talk about airspace changes. But we rarely talk about the work that goes on behind the scenes to deliver the end result. Every change is broken down into elements, all managed by different teams – from safety experts to engineers who work closely to put their individual puzzle pieces together. These teams must ensure they deliver their pieces of the puzzle on time so that projects don’t slip, and airspace changes can always be delivered on the date that has been planned.
This year marks 100 years since the birth of air traffic control services in the UK – at Croydon Airport in south London. Today, we are on the verge of another revolution in air traffic control.
Quite rightly, there is now huge focus on how we can make flying more environmentally sustainable. People want to fly, and aviation has opened up global markets that nobody imagined 100 years ago. We won’t be turning the clock back – we just have to get smarter at how we fly.