iTEC, a new technology that can change the face of air traffic management in the UK, has commenced its service at NATS’ Prestwick Control Centre.

The next-generation of air traffic management technology has been developed by Indra and includes several tools that can not only increase airspace capacity, but can also reduce the workload of the air traffic controller.

The technology can automatically detect possible aircraft collisions much ahead of time thus improving air travel safety.

"The system is designed to support two vital future ATM operational concepts: 4D trajectories and interoperability across Europe."

The new system can reduce aircraft fuel burn and emissions with the future introduction of ‘Free Route Airspace’ above 28,000ft.

The introduction of ‘Free Route Airspace’ will provide more flexibility to the airplanes, allowing them to fly optimum routes and to use the prevailing weather conditions for their advantage.

The iTEC system made its way into the limited operational service at Prestwick Centre when it was first used to control a Jet2 flight travelling from Stansted to Edinburgh last month.

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The technology at present is only being used to control aircraft in Scotland’s upper airspace sectors, but in the next five years it will be made available across the entire NATS operation at Prestwick and Swanwick centres.

NATS Prestwick Centre operations director Alastair Muir said: "Delivering iTEC into Prestwick upper airspace is a major achievement for NATS that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of everyone involved.

"In time, iTEC will become the single technology platform for our entire UK operation, helping to make us more flexible, efficient and resilient with big benefits for our airline customers."

The use of iTEC platform at Prestwick is part of a bigger technology transformation programme at NATS that would include an investment of £600m in the next five years.

Indra ATM Europe director Gonzalo Gavín said: "The system is designed to support two vital future ATM operational concepts: 4D trajectories and interoperability across Europe.

"Trajectory based operations will mean that airline preferred routing can be applied wherever possible, while iTEC is also able also to predict where a flight will be in advance."

Image: iTEC technology developed by Indra has been introduced at NATS’ Prestwick Control Centre. Photo: courtesy of NATS.