There are only a few weeks to go until Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games and NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air traffic services, is ready to play its part in the event’s success and welcome participants and supporters to Scotland’s largest city.
Air traffic controllers and staff at both Glasgow Airport’s control tower and the Prestwick Control Centre have been preparing and planning for the Games for two years, in order to deliver an event devoid of air traffic related incidents or delays while maintaining a safe, efficient and uninterrupted business as usual service for airline customers.
While commercial passenger flights will remain unaffected by airspace restrictions, there has still been a multitude of considerations to take into account for operations during the Games period.
All controllers who are qualified to manage airspace over Glasgow have undertaken additional training to increase their readiness to deal with unusual, challenging or busier than normal traffic levels. Training on a simulator allows the controllers to hone their skills in very busy traffic periods while adhering to the restricted and prohibited zones put in place by the CAA, which affects General Aviation traffic.
Engineers have been briefed so that they can plan routine maintenance outside the key dates and additional air traffic network managers are scheduled to be deployed to the control centre at Prestwick for some of the most significant days, such as the opening and closing ceremonies and the 100m Final day.
Communication with airline customers has also been vital, and daily calls during the Games will guarantee timely operational updates so ‘business as usual’ can continue.
The safety and security of the Commonwealth Games are the government’s highest priorities and to ensure the authorities have the flexibility to carry out airborne security procedures while NATS moves high volumes of air traffic through Scottish airspace, close coordination between NATS, Police Scotland and the Ministry of Defence is vital. Therefore, Royal Air Force Air Traffic Controllers and Aerospace Battle Managers as well as Police Scotland will share facilities with NATS at the control tower at Glasgow Airport to manage airspace security during the Games.
Gary Dixon, General Manager, NATS Glasgow, said: “July is traditionally the busiest month of the year for us as thousands fly off on their summer holidays, and with the Commonwealth Games also taking place during this time, we want to make sure we manage the traffic as successfully as possible. We have worked extremely closely with Glasgow Airport on the planning and preparations for this and are confident we are ready to handle what will be a demanding time for all of us.”
Jamie Hutchison, General Manager Operations, NATS Prestwick, said: “NATS has past experience in dealing with events of this kind and managed the Olympics seamlessly, so we plan on doing the same for the Commonwealth Games. The event will undoubtedly be a high point for Glasgow and Scotland this year, and after two years of groundwork, we look forward to managing the airspace with total confidence, as we do every day.”