NATS publishes consultation on changes to the Terminal Control North airspace region
region out to public consultation. The Terminal Control North area covers a
large part of London, southern and eastern England, an area with a population
of 12 million people and home to some of the UK’s busiest airports.
NATS is seeking feedback on this proposal before submitting it to the UK airspace
regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, for a decision.
be affected by the changes. This is available at: http://www.consultation.nats.co.uk/mapintro/6/how_this_affects_you.html
The NATS website: http://www.consultation.nats.co.uk/text/4/the_proposal.html
There are four key objectives that this proposal addresses:
Improving Safety and Reducing Delays
Congestion is being caused by departure routes from Heathrow, Luton, London City
and Northolt converging in an area over Brookmans Park (map location) in Hertfordshire. The changes involve redesigning these departure routes
through the region.
There are changes to the locations of the holds for Stansted and Luton, where
aircraft queue at busy times for their clearance to land. The airports currently
share two holds but under the proposals Luton would have one and Stansted two
This also means Continuous Descent Approaches, where aircraft stay higher for
longer reducing fuel burn and noise for people on the ground, can be introduced
for Stansted’s easterly runway.
We have also suggested changes to arrivals, departures and holding arrangements
for London City. A new hold is proposed for arrivals, and formalised departure
routes reflect the growing numbers of jets using the airport.
Improving Aircraft Navigation
The existing airspace structure is based on the use of conventional navigation
where aircraft use beacons on the ground to determine their position.
Modern navigation technology called ‘Precision Area Navigation’ (or P-RNAV) is
now available and NATS is required by the CAA to apply it to all new route design.
Aircraft can fly a P-RNAV route more accurately than a conventional route which
means they would be more concentrated along the centre line of a route and may
not be seen across such a wide swathe of sky as they are today.
Improving Environmental Performance
We have aimed to minimise the number of low flights over more densely populated
areas. We have introduced continuous descent approaches to reduce noise and emissions,
and we have sought to enable more efficient flight profiles.
Designs always need to achieve a balance. Routeing aircraft away from towns means
they fly further and increase their emissions; flying more direct routes reduces
emissions but may be noisier for more people on the ground.
It is not possible for routes to avoid all villages, towns and cities, especially
in such a busy region. However, we work hard to avoid as many as possible taking
into account the competing aims of ensuring safety, reducing
delay and mitigating environmental impact.
Improving Airspace Efficiency for All Users
NATS’ aim has been to secure the most efficient use of the available airspace
and to satisfy the requirements of all users as far as is safe and practical.
That means the controlled airspace NATS secures for use by aircraft under our
control is the minimum required to maintain a safe and efficient air traffic service.
For full details of the proposal and objectives please refer to the consultation documents on the NATS website.