This article, written by CANSO (Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation), https://www.canso.org/itec-system-developed-indra-enters-full-operational-service-prestwick-air-control-centre-scotland, discusses the implementation of the iTEC system in the UK. Developed by the Spanish company ‘Indra’, it allows air traffic controllers to more precisely calculate the flight paths of aeroplanes, and can more accurately predict when planes are on a collision course. This results in planes flying over 28,000 feet having more freedom to fly direct routes, rather than the pre-established pathways designed to limit the possibility for mid-air collisions. The ability to fly these direct routes means that flights will become shorter, more efficient and potentially cheaper for consumers, as pilots can take the shortest routes that require the least time and fuel.
Indra has developed the next-generation iTEC platform to be interoperable with Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems across Europe. Its introduction at Prestwick (Scotland) represents a major milestone for NATS (the leading provider of air traffic services in the UK) and helps bring the prospect of a Single European Sky closer to reality.
iTEC (interoperability Through European Collaboration) is a next-generation Air Traffic Management system led by Indra in collaboration with providers of air navigation services from Spain (ENAIRE), the UK (NATS) Germany (DFS), Holland (LVNL) and Norway (AVINOR). The Polish (PANSA) and Lithuanian (ORO NAVIGACIJA) providers have also joined the project recently. iTEC will manage one third of Europe's air traffic and generate major savings in terms of time per flight, fuel burn and operational costs.
After hundreds of hours of tests and adjustments, the new system has entered full service today at the Prestwick center and marked the beginning of a new era in air traffic control. The iTEC system has been designed to increase airspace capacity and improve safety by automatically detecting potential aircraft conflicts ahead of time. It also helps reduce aircraft fuel burn and emissions by enabling the future introduction of "Free Route Airspace" above 28,000 feet, giving pilots greater flexibility to fly the best and most direct routes instead of following the existing network of rigid waypoints and airways.
Alastair Muir, Operations Director at Prestwick Center, said: "An enormous amount of work has gone into getting us to this point. It's a major milestone both for Prestwick and NATS but also for aviation in the UK. How we do air traffic control is going to change in the next five years, making flying cleaner, quieter and more fuel efficient." Mr Muir added: "We're delighted to have been able to transition to the new system with the absolute minimum of disruption to our airline customers and their passengers."
The system will initially be used to only control aircraft at high altitude over Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland, but will be rolled out across the entire UK operation at NATS' Prestwick and Swanwick centers over the next five years.
Strategic association between NATS and Indra
Gonzalo Gavín, Director of Indra ATM Europe, said: "Delivering iTEC into Operation at Prestwick is the culmination of a success story between NATS and Indra in a real effective partnership. As a result of which NATS will reap significant benefit that we are sure will exceed the expectations thought possible at the outset of this program and which will continue to grow as the experience of using iTEC develops. This enterprise places NATS at the forefront of air traffic management technology and paves the way for the future success of SESAR deployment throughout Europe."
Prestwick Center acts as Europe's transatlantic gateway, with responsibility for 2.2m km2 of airspace and handling 80% of North Atlantic air traffic. Indra is a world leader in ATM/CNS systems for Air Traffic and Airport Services. Indra's range of products includes automation of air traffic management (ATM), communications, DVOR/DME/ILS navigation aids and conventional or satellite-based primary and secondary surveillance systems. Indra is a key technology provider that is also a member of the SESAR consortium. Indra has successfully completed more than 4,000 Air Traffic Management installations worldwide.