NATS selects Altran Praxis to support major air traffic control system

Altran Praxis has been selected by NATS to support and maintain its Traffic Load Prediction Device (TLPD). The TLPD is an Air Traffic Control (ATC) system that provides a forecast of air traffic load up to four hours ahead, enabling ATC centre managers to plan workloads to help maintain optimum traffic flows.

Altran Praxis is already working closely with NATS in the development of the advanced iFACTS system. iFACTS provides tools for trajectory prediction, conflict detection and monitoring aids, and will replace traditional paper information strips with electronic data and new displays. Altran Praxis was selected to support the TLPD due to the strength of its existing partnership and the software engineering capabilities it has demonstrated on iFACTS.

Originally introduced in 1993, the TLPD uses flight plan, tactical and radar messages to make predictions on the timing of flights entering and occupying Air Traffic Control (ATC) sectors. The system provides predictions of the loading on sectors, aerodromes, airways and other elements, at varying degrees of detail, up to four hours into the future. TLPD is expected to understand messages concerning flights in UK airspace, Irish airspace, the oceanic transition areas, and a portion of the Northern European airspaces.

These predictions enable NATS UK Flow Managers and Local Area Supervisors to detect the possibility of controllers becoming overloaded, in sufficient time to re-allocate resources to prevent flight delays.

The TLPD is a core tool for NATS when it comes to predicting future air traffic loads, said Allan Robb, Senior Programme Manager, NATS. Having already worked with Altran Praxis on the iFACTS project, we have developed a strong relationship and know they have the software engineering skills to fully support TLPD.

The first Altran Praxis build of the TLPD went live in June 2010 after the support contract began on 1 April 2010. Altran Praxis will support the TLPD for the rest of its operational life, expected to be for at least five years.

NATS performs a vital national role ensuring the smooth running of the UKs air traffic management on a daily basis, supporting millions of people to make journeys to all parts of the world. TLPD is key to NATS operation and we really understand its importance. We are delighted to have been given this responsibility and look forward to helping NATS develop this system to maintain and further optimise their traffic operations, said Keith Williams, Altran Praxis Managing Director.

Deployed within the operations rooms of NATS centres in Swanwick and Prestwick, the TLPD is simultaneously available to 40 users. A client-server system, the TLPD is a key part of the Tactical Operational Management Systems (TOMS). This is a suite of applications that collect, analyse and filter ATC messages.
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