NATS takes further step towards SESAR deployment

UK provider NATS has completed the development of four major components of the next generation air traffic control system, with the help of funding from the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

The four projects, co-funded by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), will enable NATS to meet the aim of implementing a SESAR-compliant Flight Data Processing System and ultimately SESAR.

The projects include:

• The introduction of a new rostering tool, which has brought information together into one place to efficiently match the demand and supply of shift-working staff in both Swanwick and Prestwick Centres, whilst adhering to a complex set of working time constraints.

• Replacement of NATS’ record and replay functionality, which is used to support safety investigations, at the Swanwick and Prestwick Air Traffic Control Centres. The new tool enables visual displays and recordings of conversations between controllers and pilots to be saved, allowing replay for safety investigations.

• Development of a new High-availability Surveillance Tracker Services Solution to replace the current “NODE N” and “NODE L” systems, a key enabler of NATS’ programme that will see us deploy SESAR.

• Replacement of NATS’ existing safety-net server – including abnormal airspeed monitor and primary and secondary airspace infringement tools – which supports the controllers as they maintain the safe separation of aircraft.

The tools have now been handed over for integration in to the next generation NATS air traffic control systems that will be implemented over the next few years.

NATS is a leading participant in the Single European Sky ATM Research programme (SESAR) and has already deployed a number of SESAR concepts into operation with the help of INEA co-funding, including the Time-Based Separation system for arriving aircraft at Heathrow Airport and Point Merge, a new airspace design concept that uses improved aircraft navigational capabilities to improve overall airspace efficiency.