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NATS launches London airspace consultation

NATS launches London airspace consultation

NATS has started a consultation on proposed airspace changes over southern England.

The London Airspace Consultation will run until January 21st 2014 and will be available online for stakeholders and the public to view and leave feedback that will help with the modernisation of the UK’s airspace structure.

This consultation is the first stage in a wider programme of proposed changes to deliver the UK’s Future Airspace Strategy, developed by the Civil Aviation Authority with the support of the aviation industry.

It will deliver significant benefits, including fuel savings for airlines, which will also mean fewer CO2 emissions, and less noise overall for people living below.

Aircraft today use very accurate navigation technology and new European legislation requires all member States, including the UK, to revise airspace and maximise the use of these new technologies.

Change is therefore inevitable and the focus of this consultation is on how best to enable that change.

After listening to feedback from previous consultations, this consultation is on swathes of airspace – not on proposed routes.

The final route positions will only be determined after consideration of the feedback from the consultation.

The new design concept being implemented for this programme, making the most of new navigation capability, will also significantly reduce the use of conventional holds (or stacks), and put new route structures over the sea where possible.

The net effect of these proposals will be less noise – aircraft will climb higher, more quickly on departure and stay higher for longer on arrival. 

Flight paths will eventually change – and this may mean some areas will be overflown more than today, others less, and some will not notice any significant change.

For Gatwick routes, the consultation is being run jointly by NATS and Gatwick Airport, with Gatwick leading consultation on changes below 4,000ft, and NATS on changes above 7,000ft.

Consultation on changes planned for airspace between 4,000 and 7,000ft will be managed jointly. 

NATS is leading the consultation on the intermediate and network airspace proposals for the other airports; London City is not yet in a position to proceed with low level change proposals, which will be subject to a future consultation.

Later stages will address proposals for airspace supporting other parts of the London airports network, to be complete by 2020.

Juliet Kennedy, NATS’ operations director, Swanwick, said: “The airspace change programme is essential if we are to contribute to and ensure the success of the UK’s Future Airspace Strategy.

“The airspace above London is the most complex in the world, and as traffic levels increase change is necessary to ensure safety and service levels.”