After four years of development, one of the UK’s biggest airspace modernisation changes has been implemented over Wales and southwest England.

Systemisation and Free Route Airspace (FRA) were deployed simultaneously last Thursday to transform a third of the UK’s airspace infrastructure.

One of the most technical and complex projects ever undertaken by NATS, the West Airspace Deployment (West) forms an important part of the industry’s roadmap to deliver a more sustainable future for air travel and supports the UK government’s Airspace Modernisation Strategy.

Systemisation has been implemented above 7,000ft to 24,500ft and is the first large-scale introduction of a systemised network in the UK. No changes have been made to the airspace below 7,000ft. By using the latest aircraft technology and approach to airspace design thinking, a systemised network has highly defined flight paths which use the available airspace as efficiently as possible. To design systemised routes, NATS have introduced Performance Based Navigation (PBN) which uses satellite technology on modern aircraft, allowing them to fly on precise flight paths from take off until they reach the higher-level network.

This means airlines and airports will experience greater predictability for their operations while the potential for delay will be reduced.

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