NATS “hugely impressive and vitally important” says Transport Secretary

- London, UK

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin paid a visit to the NATS’ air traffic control centre at Swanwick yesterday and was impressed by what he saw.

Mr McLoughlin met with NATS CEO Richard Deakin to see the work of air traffic controllers looking after the world’s most complex airspace. Every day NATS guides 6,000 aircraft through UK skies and around 2 million annually.

Mr McLoughlin said: "I was very pleased to have the opportunity to visit the Swanwick site and see this hugely impressive and vitally important operation first-hand, and to talk to the highly skilled NATS staff about their work."

In the 12 years since it became a Public Private Partnership NATS has invested heavily in new technology, such as iFACTS a tool that allows air traffic controllers to see 18 minutes into the future, which has boosted performance and slashed delays.

Last year delays attributable to NATS reached their lowest ever level, averaging just 1.6 seconds per flight.

NATS’ international growth agenda and south-east airport capacity were both subjects high on the agenda, with Mr Deakin highlighting the central importance of airspace to the efficient running of any airport.

Mr Deakin said: “NATS has got enormous expertise in designing and managing airspace both in the UK and around the world. Airspace capacity in the south-east of England is just as constrained as the infrastructure on the ground, something that the Secretary of State fully appreciated.”

Mr McLouglin’s trip follows a visit by members of the Airports Commission to Swanwick earlier this year.

The Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin visiting NATS air traffic control centre at Swanwick

The Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin visiting NATS air traffic control centre at Swanwick. With Richard Deakin, CEO NATS watching over.

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