Friday 24 November 2017

VIDEO: Inside Air Traffic Control on its busiest day of the year

Crowded skies

Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Air traffic controllers in the UK are gearing up for their busiest day of the year, as this newly-released video reveals.

Cheaper fuel, a recovering economy and the fact that many English schools are breaking up for summer holidays have created something of a perfect storm for air traffic controllers, who expect to handle 8,000 flights today.

UK airspace is among the world's busiest, with some 2.2 million flights (and 220 million passengers) passing through it in the past year alone.

So how does NATS, the UK's largest provider of air traffic control services, prepare for such a jam-packed day of take-offs and landings?

As the video above shows, planning for peaks in demand begins months in advance, with ongoing analysis of airline schedules and airport capacity to prepare resources to safely handle the expected demand.

NATS manages the UK’s airspace from two air traffic control centres at Prestwick, Ayrshire and Swanwick, Hampshire.

Air traffic controllers at Swanwick have responsibility for the airspace over most of England and Wales, including the busy London airports where more than 3,500 flights take-off and land from just six runways every day.

Last year, controllers at the facility oversaw 1,390 movements in a single day off just two runways at Heathrow.

The average delay per flight is less than two seconds, NATS says.

London Heathrow is also predicting its busiest day of the year today, with over 500,000 passengers expected over the course of the weekend.

London Gatwick is expecting a record-breaking summer too, with 6.8 million passengers predicted from July 17 to September 2.

Closer to home, Dublin Airport has reported a 15pc increase in passenger numbers for the first six months of 2015, with 11.5 million passengers (1.5 million more than the same period last year), according to the daa.

Passenger growth at the airport is increasing at three times the European average, with 2015 on course to be the busiest in the airport's history.

88,120 passengers will pass through the airport today.

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