UK air navigation services provider NATS has started a 14-week “consultation” process through January 21 to gather comments from airlines and other interested groups on proposed airspace changes surrounding Gatwick and London City airports. The consultation marks the first step in a wider program of proposed changes under the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s Future Airspace Strategy, an ATC modernization plan for the UK and Ireland.
National Air Traffic Services
Business aircraft operators planning to fly to Britain for next summer’s Olympic Games are being encouraged to make early requests for mandatory landing and takeoff slots at airports in what will be heavily restricted airspace in the southeast of England.
The cloud of volcanic ash continues to move south through the UK and continental Europe as the eruption in Iceland persists.
Continuing its opposition to any hint of a privatized ATC system in the U.S., the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) said it is closely watching the funding problems being experienced in the UK and Canada. Privatization advocates in the U.S. point to what they call “successes” in both the UK and Canada to justify their position, said Natca president John Carr, who argued the word “failure” now applies.
Britain’s partly privatized National Air Traffic Services (NATS) has asked the government to allow it to raise en route charges to make up an estimated £230 million ($327 million) revenue shortfall over the next three years. It has also had to request approximately £60 million ($85 million) in loans from the government and the consortium of banks that last year backed seven leading UK airlines when they acquired a 46-percent stake in NATS.
After several years of bitter debate, partial privatization of the UK’s ATC system became a reality on July 27 when the Airline Group completed the acquisition of a 46-percent stake in National Air Traffic Services (NATS). The government has retained a 49-percent stake, with the remaining 5 percent going to NATS employees.
Britain’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is stepping up operating trials aimed at making greater use of both en route and terminal area airspace. New procedures being evaluated include the use of parallel offset tracks in place of radar headings alone; closer spacing of parallel routes with autonomous operations; and the use of precision area navigation (PRnav) procedures for terminal area control.
Rumor has it the Bush Administration intends to sell off ATC to the highest bidder. As is the case with most rumors, there is a kernel of truth around which a mass of misunderstanding and misinformation has grown.
Business jets make up a small percentage of UK commercial air traffic–3.5 percent–but a recent analysis of air traffic safety indicates that the rate of incidents and accidents among business jets is higher than among other types of commercial turbine aircraft flying in UK airspace.
“Business aviation operators are becoming much more sophisticated about the ways they can use their airplanes outside the United States,” said Bill Stine, NBAA’s director of international operations and the man behind the curtain for the association’s annual International Operators Conference (IOC), held this year in San Diego.
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