Space-based ADS-B aircraft monitoring has permanently changed the way airplanes cross the North Atlantic Ocean. Planes can now fly closer together, allowing more aircraft to operate on the fastest and most environmentally friendly routes.
Immediately delivering safety improvement, the new separation standards have also allowed NAT airspace users to access more efficient routings during the trial. With the new standards recognised globally by ICAO, these are benefits that can be enjoyed around the world as adoption of Space Based ADS-B increases.– Martin Donnan, NATS Director, En-route ATM
Since the introduction of the Aireon-powered service in March 2019, NATS, NAV CANADA and NAV Portugal operated with reduced separations standards – known as ASEPS or Advanced Surveillance-Enhanced Procedural Separation standards – for aircraft flying through oceanic airspace. During the 19 month period the UK Civil Aviation Authority monitored the operations as did ICAO’s North Atlantic Working Groups. The successful completion of the trial mean the new standards are permanently adopted, including publication in ICAO’s worldwide documentation.
Planes historically operated with 5 minute spacing across the Atlantic because controllers could not pinpoint their location during the crossings. That translated to a roughly 40 nautical mile range. Under the new program the planes can now trail each other by just 14 nautical miles.
As the air travel industry recovers the ability to handle more aircraft on the most efficient routes will be a significant boost to controllers on both sides of the Atlantic. And, presumably, the rest of the globe as this precedent-setting expands elsewhere.
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