In June 1997 NATS commissioned EDS to design, construct and install the Oceanic air traffic control centre in Prestwick to cover north Atlantic flights.
NATS cancelled the project in July 2000, claiming that EDS missed an important deadline.
EDS is counterclaiming for losses of £42.8m, which the company claims covers what it would have earned had it been allowed to complete the deal, less the costs saved as a result of early termination and the discount for early payment.
If the EDS counterclaim is successful the damages could be higher, as the company expected to gain extra income from providing additional services to NATS following the implementation of the system and from exploiting intellectual property rights to the software it would have produced.
The full trial will begin early next year, at a crucial time for NATS. The agency is committed to bring its troubled Swanwick air traffic control centre into operation during the first quarter of 2002. The £700m Swanwick centre is vastly over budget and almost six years late.