Aviation industry welcomes Government leadership on airspace modernisation

Published: 02.02.2017

Aviation industry welcomes Government leadership on airspace modernisation

The Sky’s the limit coalition representing airports, airlines and UK air traffic control has welcomed the publication of the Government’s airspace and noise policy as a first-step towards modernising our airspace.

Without redesigning the UK’s network of flight paths and airways, it is feared that it simply won’t cope with the growth in traffic forecast over the coming years, with 3.1 million flights a year expected in the UK by 2030, up from 2 million flights in 2015.

Analysis commissioned by the DfT and carried out by NATS, predicts total delays due to air traffic management could reach 4.4 million minutes by 2030 – that’s 3,100 days of delay and 72 times more than 2015 – if nothing is done.

Martin Rolfe, NATS Chief Executive Officer, speaking on behalf of The Sky’s the limit said: “The Secretary of State for Transport has today restated the overwhelming case for airspace modernisation. It will benefit the economy, through faster journeys and dramatically reducing the risk of future delays as a result of increased capacity, and reduce aviation’s impact on the environment and local communities.

“His welcome words signal strong Government leadership on airspace modernisation and we look forward to supporting the consultation on airspace and noise. It is a critical first step towards achieving modernisation.

“To harness the full potential of airspace modernisation, we need a clear Government framework which addresses areas where there are competing views on the impact of new flightpaths.  Meanwhile the aviation industry is working hard to deliver the necessary technologies and operating procedures to support the modernisation programme.

“The Government’s consultation is the opportunity to get this right and The Sky’s the Limit encourages all stakeholders to respond to the Government’s consultation to ensure their views are heard and we can then get on and deliver the benefits the Secretary of State has so clearly identified.”

The Sky’s the Limit campaign is made up of the Airport Operators Association, BAR UK, Airlines UK, IATA and NATS.


Note to editors:

Find out more about the campaign at theskysthelimit.aero

For more information contact the NATS Press Office on 01489 615945, email info@theskysthelimit.aero

About the Sky’s the Limit campaign

The Sky’s the Limit is a campaign group of leading aviation organisations calling on the Government to prioritise its work on airspace and noise, and support industry initiatives to modernise our airspace.

The Sky’s the Limit campaign members include the Airport Operators Association, the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK, Airlines UK and the International Air Transport Association

What is airspace modernisation?

Controlled airspace is the invisible structure of airways and flight paths commercial aircraft follow when flying through the UK. Designed over 50 years ago for an industry vastly different in scale to the one we have today, it was never envisaged that UK airspace would eventually handle more than two million aircraft and carry 250 million passengers, as it did in 2015.

And air traffic is set to continue to grow, reaching 3.1 million aircraft carrying 350 million passengers by 2030. The boosts to trade and tourism from this growth are substantial, but to secure it the UK needs to ensure that it can manage that demand without delaying passengers or cancelling flights. We need to modernise our invisible infrastructure without further delay.

Through better operating procedures that can be utilised with a modern airspace structure, aircraft can fly more directly and routes can be designed to avoid noise sensitive areas or provide a more equitable spread of noise. It will also mean greater use of continuous descent and climb operations which reduce noise and CO2 emissions. In essence, aircraft would be able to fly quieter and more efficient routes.

It will also benefit the UK economy. Airspace modernisation across Europe will deliver over £29bn to UK GDP and 116,000 jobs by 2035 (IATA, 2016).

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