UK’s Airspace Needs ‘Massive Modernization,’ BBC Says

By James T. McKenna | July 5, 2017
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NATS needs a massive program of modernization to keep up with demand for air travel, according to a report by the BBC.

The U.K. air navigation service provider already is pursuing a 600 million pound Sterling investment in a new computer system, the BBC reported, but it says government support is needed to improve a network of aging flight paths.

“One of the big challenges for us is the design of the airspace in the future and the traffic growth,” said the head of development at NATS’ Prestwick Control Center, Paul Peers, according to the network. “We are going to have to redesign our airspace and we are going to need government support to make sure we can do that in the right way.”

Prestwick Center’s operations includes the Manchester Area Control Center (which controls aircraft over much of the north of England, the Midlands and north Wales from 2,500 feet up to 28,500 feet), the Scottish Area Control Center (which controls aircraft over Scotland, Northern Ireland, Northern England and the North Sea from 2,500 feet up to 66,000 feet) and the Oceanic Area Control Center (which controls the airspace over the eastern half of the North Atlantic from the Azores — 45 degrees north — to a boundary with Iceland — 61 degrees north).

Prestwick expects to handle more than 250,000 flights during the peak holiday season this year — an increase of 15,000 over last year, the BBC said.

NATS Holding Ltd.’s 2017 fiscal year ended March 31, and the organization showed a 182.7% increase in profit before tax, compared to the previous year. The financial report also showed an increase of 2.4% in revenue, compared to the previous year.

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