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NATS and partners recognised at annual Air Traffic Management Awards

NATS was crowned a winner at the prestigious Air Traffic Management Awards in Geneva yesterday, overcoming competition from highly deserving projects from around the world.

Image courtesy NATS

The awards were held at CANSO Airspace World in recognition of the significant achievements by leaders, initiatives and organisations in the air traffic management industry.  

NATS was a winner in the Reimagining ATM Operations category which sought to recognised new approaches to airspace design, route optimisation, airspace classification and dynamic airspace management.

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The West Airspace Deployment was one of the largest and most technically complex airspace changes NATS has ever delivered. A project that was the culmination of more than five years of development, it was successfully implemented on 23rd March 2023.  

Spanning 54,000nm2, the airspace structure above 7,000ft over southwest England and Wales was transformed to support the future of air travel and enable simpler, safer and more efficient flying. This once in a generation airspace upgrade forms an important part of the aviation industry’s roadmap to deliver a more sustainable future for air travel and supports the UK Government’s Airspace Modernisation Strategy.  
 
In a first for the UK, two separate airspace change proposals to introduce Systemisation and Free Route Airspace (FRA) operations were deployed simultaneously in a section of airspace that hosts some of the busiest routes for international flights to and from major UK airports.  

The Digital Transformation in ATM category looks to recognise those working to revolutionising ATM for increased efficiency, safety and capacity. NATS, LVNL, Leidos UK and Think Research were runners up for the deployment of Intelligent Approach, which went live at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on 26th January 2023 following three years of close collaboration.
 
Intelligent Approach is an aircraft spacing tool developed by NATS and Leidos UK that allows air traffic controllers to improve the consistency of spacing between arriving aircraft. That helps maximise runway capacity, reducing delays and emissions and – importantly for LVNL – the noise impact on local residents.

Upon going live, Intelligent Approach immediately delivered up to six additional movements for each of Schiphol’s runways, not only delivering much needed tactical capacity but also allowing reduced usage of the airport’s most noise sensitive runways.

NATS was also shortlisted in the Integration of Drones and Advanced Air Mobility category, recognised for its work in Project AMEC – Air Mobility Ecosystem Consortium.

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Last year, NATS conducted the UK’s first major air traffic management simulations for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), demonstrating how eVTOLs could one day be safely integrated with conventional air traffic.

The simulations were the culmination of three years of work creating the required infrastructure and processes for eVTOLs to safely operate in a complex airspace environment. The work has brought new airspace users a step closer to safely integrating with existing air traffic in the UK. 

Project AMEC aims to demonstrate the commercial and end to end operational viability of Advanced Air Mobility in the UK. It is jointly funded by UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) Future Flight Challenge and is made up of NATS, Vertical Aerospace, Virgin Atlantic, AtkinsRéalis, Skyports, Connected Places Catapult, Cranfield University and WMG – University of Warwick, Bristol Airport, London City Airport and Heathrow Airport.

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