The NERC project was started in 1987, with the establishment of a programme directorate within NATS. The first phase involved the selection of a suitable site for the building which would house the new centre, and in 1990 the current location, at Swanwick, near Southampton, was picked.

UK company Bovis Construction was awarded a £120 million contract for the new building, which was handed over to NATSo n schedule in November 1994.

Meanwhile, in October 1992, a consortium headed by Lockheed Martin and including EDS Scicon, Frequentis, IBM, Logica and Siemens Plessey was awarded a contract then valued at £130 million for the operational systems.

Acceptance trials by NATS of the ATC system were halted in late 1995, however, because of "software-stability problems". A programme review and audit carried out by Lockheed Martin recommended that work to improve the stability of the software be extended, with a "progressive rebuild" of the software. This work has pushed the expected NATS acceptance date back until at least July 1997 - the deadline for the full training programme to start in time for a March 1998 operational date.

Source: Flight International