Richard Deakin, CEO of NATS resigns after many criticisms of NATS’ work

Richard Deakin, the CEO of NATS (National Air Traffic Services) has resigned after 5 years in the job.  He is standing down with immediate effect.  The managing director of operations, Martin Rolfe, has taken over instead but the board is looking for a successor among internal and external (possibly overseas) candidates. NATS said Richard Deaking was leaving by mutual consent as the company was embarking on a new regulatory period and was preparing to implement the single European sky programme, SESAR, which will see much closer integration of air traffic control services across borders. NATS has received fierce criticism recently due to changes it has made to UK airspace, its failure to consult properly, and its inability to deal with upset and angry residents. The fiasco at Heathrow, when NATS apparently did not tell the airport it had made changes to flight paths, got it some very bad publicity.  Last year, after a computer failure at Swanwick, Vince Cable accused NATS of “skimping on investment.” But Richard Deakin did help block plans for a Thames estuary airport, saying it was in the “very worst spot” for air traffic. The situation of inadequate airspace consultation creating deep anger in over flown communities has also caused stresses within the CAA.



Nats chief quits as air traffic control firm pursues fresh approach

Richard Deakin, who faced calls for his resignation amid UK flight chaos in December, steps down as Nats embarks on new regulatory period

By Gwyn Topham (Guardian)


The boss of Nats, the air traffic control service, has quit after five years in charge. Richard Deakin, who earned more than £1m in 2014, has stood down as chief executive with immediate effect.

The managing director of operations, Martin Rolfe, has taken the helm, although the board said it was looking for a successor among internal and external candidates.

Nats said Deakin was leaving by mutual consent as the company was embarking on a new regulatory period and was preparing to implement the single European sky programme, which will see much closer integration of air traffic control services across borders.

Chairman Paul Golby said it was “an appropriate time to make a change to the leadership of the company, and to bring a new perspective and approach”.

Deakin faced calls from MPs for either his resignation or the forfeiture of his bonus after a computer failure at the Swanwick control centre in Hampshire last December grounded flights for several hours across the UK. It followed a similar failure the previous year when the then business secretary, Vince Cable, accused Nats of “skimping on investment” and being “penny wise and pound foolish”.

Nats would not reveal whether Deakin was likely to get a bonus for 2015 until it publishes its annual report in June.

Deakin, however, may have contributed to sparing the country the cost of a new Thames Estuary airport after intervening to point out that London mayor Boris Johnson’s proposed hub was in the “very worst spot” for air traffic.


Also:  (Times)

The £1 million-a-year head of air traffic control has been stood down as chief executive with immediate effect.

The unheralded announcement of the departure of Richard Deakin emerged only days before he wasscheduled to present the annual results of National Air Traffic Services. His exit comes months after heoversaw chaos in the skies when the air traffic control command centre at Swanwick, Hampshire, was felled by a “computer glitch” that led to hundreds of flights being cancelled, delayed or di­verted during the run-up to Christmas.

Mr Deakin’s departure also follows the arrival of a new chairman, Paul Golby, the former chief executive ofE.ON, the energy company. Nats, which is co-owned by the tax­payer and the aviation industry, said that it did not have a replacement chief executive in hand for Mr Deakin, but that Martin Rolfe, the operations di­rector, would be stepping into the job in the meantime and that it would be Mr Rolfe who would be presenting the annual results.


Earlier the NATS apology about Heathrow:

NATS takes steps to improve information to airports on changes in air traffic control


NATS has apologised to Heathrow Airport Ltd for not highlighting an operational change to air traffic control which has affected some of the same communities that were affected by the airport’s airspace trials which ended last November.

Following further complaints from residents, Heathrow asked NATS if there had been any other airspace changes and we confirmed there had been none, as a result of which Heathrow made public assurances to residents. Following further investigations, the earlier procedural change was then identified which has led to a change in flight patterns over some communities to the south and southwest of Heathrow.

In June 2014, NATS changed the way air traffic controllers direct aircraft within an area of existing airspace. This change only applies when the airport is on easterly operations, and affects only the Compton route which accounts for around 16% of departures, or 6% of total departures. It involves directing aircraft through a ‘gate’ approximately seven miles wide in the Compton area at approximately 8000ft; this ‘gate’, previously 13 miles wide, allows NATS to improve air traffic management in the area, enhancing safety and efficiency.

This new procedure involves NATS (NERL) in terminal control in Swanwick climbing aircraft more quickly out of Heathrow on the Compton route and more clearly separating them from Heathrow inbound streams that in the past they would have had to transit underneath at low level. There is a net safety benefit of doing this through greater systemisation of the airspace and a clearer separation of inbound and outbound flows of traffic. There is also a net benefit to the public as a whole, as these departures now climb more efficiently, reducing overall ground noise.

The area involved is designated as a Radar Manoeuvring Area. NATS is therefore authorised to “vector” (direct) aircraft tactically in line with our obligations under our CAA licence to achieve safe, efficient and expeditious air traffic control. NATS is not required to consult on operational changes of this type as we are not moving, creating or changing routes or redesigning airways.

Our first priority is safety, and we also seek to use existing controlled airspace in the most efficient way to provide expeditious service to users. The change is in line with the Government’s Aviation Policy Framework, which states ‘limit and, where possible, reduce the number of people in the UK significantly affected by aircraft noise’. We have therefore explained to Heathrow that we are not intending to revert to previous procedures.

There is no suggestion that NATS did not follow the current agreed process. However, we have already taken steps to ensure more robust processes are in place to share relevant information with Heathrow so that they are aware of any changes that may be noticed by local residents.

……… and it continues ….. here