Oceanic controllers of the North Atlantic flight information regions (FIR) Gander and Shanwick will be given new equipment to upgrade surveillance quality, communications and capacity. UK National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is to buy Nav Canada's Gander Automated Air Traffic System and the two companies are to develop the model further for operation at NATS's Shanwick oceanic centre by 2006.

The Gander and Shanwick FIRs contain the world's busiest oceanic air routes, handling 325,000 flights a year, according to NATS chief executive Richard Everitt. The air traffic management model Shanwick will install, to be known as the Shanwick Automated Air Traffic System (SAATS), will replace high-frequency voice communications with the latest controller-pilot datalinking communications equipment, and the existing complex bolt-on automatic dependent surveillance (ADS) system with a more easily managed ADS incorporating map-based aircraft track displays and predictive trajectory planning.

The system, says NATS, should enable controllers to more easily allocate best flight profiles to aircraft, while "massively" increasing system capacity.

NATS says a team of 20 of its engineers and controllers will be working in Ottawa, Canada, with its Nav Canada counterpart to develop the SAATS software. "We'll be taking with us the communications technology we have developed at Prestwick [and] the result will be a jointly compatible system that fully meets the needs of future air navigation systems now under development," it says.

Source: Flight International