Former RAF pilot turned Flybe chief Sir Timothy Anderson has been tasked with leading the wholesale transformation of the UK’s airspace infrastructure.
Anderson will chair a new committee overseeing the Airspace Change Organising Group (Acog), which is coordinating the £150 million overhaul – part of the UK’s airspace modernisation strategy set out last December.
He will take up the role in September, less than a year after he was appointed Flybe chief operating officer following four years at the airline as a non-executive director.
Airspace modernisation was made a key focus of the government’s new Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) – which green-lit expansion at Heathrow airport via a third runway – while urging airports across the country to make the most of existing capacity and airspace.
Anderson’s appointment follows that of the CAA’s Mark Swan, who will head up the Acog team reporting to a steering group featuring senior airline executives and representatives from airports and NATS, the UK’s main air traffic control provider.
NATS says the country’s airspace management systems are outdated and inefficient, fail to utilise modern technology and are unable to account for future growth.
“The UK’s airspace structures have served the nation well but our dependence on air transport, and its continuing growth, drive an inescapable need to modernise our airspace design and use,” said Anderson.
“By doing this intelligently, we will increase capacity safely [while] exploiting emerging technologies and smart design principles to ensure we minimise environmental impacts to tolerable levels. ‘Low-to-no’ carbon is an entirely plausible direction of travel, and one that we all can and should embrace.”
Objectives of the £150 million scheme include: reducing carbon emissions from aviation; reducing aircraft “stacking”; better managing noise impacts on local communities; strengthening the UK’s air traffic network to make it more resilient to delays; and increasing airport capacity.
Over the next decade, Acog, which was commissioned by the Department for Transport and CAA and will operate as an independent body within NATS, will coordinate more than 15 airspace change projects at 14 airports and in “higher level airspace”.
Aviation minister Baroness Vere added: “Modernisation of our airspace is essential to cut delays and make flying cleaner and quieter, while keeping pace with growing demand. I’m sure Sir Timothy and his team will help navigate the complexities involved as we work to transform our airspace infrastructure.”