Dublin takes control of Northern Ireland's skies
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is providing air traffic control services in airspace over Northern Ireland for the first time ever as part of a trial that sees responsibility for the area transferred to the agency from UK's air traffic control service NATS.
The trial – which runs until September – is part of the wider Single European Sky Initiative being promoted by the EU, which aims to organise airspace into so-called 'functional airspace blocks' (FABs) They are created according to traffic flows rather than being based on national borders. The aim is to ensure an increasing amount of air traffic can be handled while cutting overall air traffic management and airline costs, and improving efficiency.
The trial is the first ever to test new ways of delivering air traffic control services to airlines and gather information on efficiencies that could be gained through concept of 'dynamic sectorisation' – the tactical switching of air traffic services between providers.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has welcomed the initiative, which will see two further phases of the trial take place once the current one ends in the autumn.
"It's good news for airlines and their passengers, should further improve efficiencies, and make our airspace ever safer," he said.
The chief executive of Britain's National Air Traffic Service (NATS), Richard Deakin, said that the project was one of the "most challenging and complex" it had undertaken with the IAA as part of the UK-Ireland FAB. IAA chief executive Eamonn Brennan also welcomed the initiative.