National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and its Spanish counterpart AENA are to join forces in a joint venture company to develop an air traffic control system for both the UK and Spain
Part-privatised NATS has signed a memorandum of co-operation with AENA that will see them develop an upgraded version of the Spanish air traffic control system SACTA with the capacity to handle complex and crowded UK and Spanish airspace.
NATS has a troubled history of IT procurement. Last year an audit by consultancy Arthur D Little of an earlier project to deliver new air traffic control systems heavily criticised the service, highlighting the fact that information given to the NATS board seemed "very mild when compared with the reality of the true risks” for new systems at NATS’ Swanwick centre.
The new project, with a six-year investment of €150m, aims to introduce the upgraded control system from 2007 in Spain. It will be rolled out to the UK at NATS’ Prestwick centre in 2009 and then to Swanwick in 2012.
NATS chief executive Paul Barron said, “Both AENA and NATS will gain from this venture to develop the SACTA system. NATS brings our unique experience of managing complex airspace and large volumes of traffic, while AENA brings experience, and a system which has proved itself in service over the past 15 years.”