Airspace Modernisation

Like road and rail infrastructure, the invisible infrastructure in our skies needs to be updated if we are to keep Britain moving. To learn more about the needs and concerns John attended a parliamentary event on airspace modernisation, a programme of change that will see airspace across the UK modernised. 

Industry experts from air traffic control provider NATS, and the Airspace Change Organising Group, were present at the event to provide more detail and present the ‘Our Future Skies’ campaign, a coalition of organisations including airports and airlines that are highlighting the need for airspace modernisation.

Modernising airspace will create opportunities to reduce the aviation industry’s environmental impact by reducing carbon emissions and noise pollution. There will be less of a need for stacking, where aircraft join a circular queue to land at busy airports, and more continuous climb and descent profiles for aircraft, bringing noise benefits to those who live beneath them.

John said “I welcome this programme and the work that is being done. Whether it is ensuring that planes land on time at airports and that the skies are safe and quieter or whether it is the small planes that fly for enjoyment and cause aggravation amongst constituents, there is clear need for airspace to be modernised. I have visited the NATS centre at Swanwick near Southampton and seen for myself the professional and calm way in which current airspace is managed. I look forward to this continuing.”

That pressing need has been recognised by the Secretary of State for Transport, and it is now part of the Government policy announced in the Queen’s Speech of December 2019. The network of routes hasn’t been fundamentally changed since it was first designed in the 1950’s and if nothing is done, more than 1 in 3 flights from all UK airports are expected to experience delays of over half an hour by 2030.

Modernising our airspace will make it more efficient, preventing rising delays and resulting in less congestion for holidaymakers, business passengers and cargo alike. It will enhance the UK’s global connections and boost the UK economy, creating more direct routes and reducing the environmental impact of UK flights.

According to research commissioned by NATS, 82% of British adults agree that aviation is important for the UK economy and 59% are in favour of airspace modernisation. This is a complex process to undertake but one that is of vital importance to the UK’s reputation for trade, business and investment while bringing benefits to the environment and consumers.