UK airspace environmental and operational efficiency continues to improve but NATS faces challenge
Fri 15 Aug 2014 – According to UK air traffic services provider NATS, the environmental and operational efficiency of UK airspace improved during the first half of this year. However, it faces a challenge to meet a new tighter year-end target set by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). In 2012, NATS became the first ANSP to be set an incentivised efficiency performance target by its regulatory authority. NATS measures the route and trajectory of every aircraft flight within UK airspace using its three-dimensional inefficiency (3Di) metric, with each flight compared to a scale where zero represents total environmental efficiency. Most flights typically score between 15 and 35. During the January to June 2014 period, NATS achieved a rolling average score of 23.3, lower than the score of 23.7 for 2013 but higher than the 2014 target of 23 set by the CAA.
In the first year of the performance index, 2012, NATS achieved a 3Di score of 23.9 against a target of 24. If NATS achieves its target scores over the three-year period, around 600,000 tonnes of CO2 will have been saved.
“We’ve seen a gradual reduction in 3Di scores so far this year, demonstrating that UK airspace efficiency is improving, but we still have more to do to achieve the CAA’s target value by the end of the year,” commented Ian Jopson, NATS’ Head of Environmental Affairs.
“We’re currently focusing on a number of small scale airspace changes, as well as extending the flexible use of airspace with military users and further improvements in continuous descent approaches.”
According to NATS, its air traffic controllers can help earn a lower 3Di score by providing direct routes, smooth continuous climbs and descents, and optimum flight levels. Factors that can negatively affect the score include the weather, the volume of flights within the network and limited runway capacity leading to aircraft holding.