NATS taps Altran to design new air traffic conflict detection tool

14 November 2017 3 min. read
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NATS has partnered with Altran to implement a next generation conflict detection tool, as consulting firms continue to benefit from innovation in the aerospace industry. The new contract sees a continuation of a long term alliance between the air traffic management service and Altran.

The UK air traffic services provider, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), has awarded Altran the contract for the development of FourSight, a next generation air traffic conflict detection tool. The contract sees a continuation of relations between Altran and NATS that has included numerous landmark air traffic management projects, with the work on FourSight complementing what Altran has been doing with NATS to develop a state-of-the-art new Strategic Human-Machine Interface for its controllers, with the aim of having a common interface across all positions at both Swanwick and Prestwick.

FourSight will be the successor to NATS’ hugely successful iFACTS system, which, since its 2011 launch, has been used to predict an aircraft’s location up to 18 minutes into the future. While the obvious safety applications were the chief driver of the technology, the system also helped cut emissions and resulted in a 40% capacity increase for some airspace sectors. iFACTS, however, is currently only used in NATS’ London Area Control operation. With FourSight, the group hope to see the benefits applied across the NATS en-route operation at the Swanwick and Prestwick centres.

NATS taps Altran to design new air traffic conflict detection tool

Tim Bullock, NATS Director, Supply Chain said, “NATS is investing heavily in the replacement of our current operational systems with modern SESAR compliant technology that can offer airspace users increased safety, more network capacity and maximum opportunities for fuel efficient routes.”

Dominique Cerutti, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Altran Group added, “I am very happy that our long-standing relationship with NATS has entered its next phase of maturity with our selection for this new and ambitious project. We will support NATS in pursuit of a common goal to assist in the implementation of this important European initiative.”

The new contract follows closely on Altran closing another deal, along with Rapita Systems and the University of Oxford, to helm a National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme funded project aimed at automating the testing of SPARK related software within the aviation industry. The objective of the programme is to support the development of around 100 undeveloped ‘low hanging fruit’ aerospace technologies – creating more than 1,200 jobs in the process.

Beyond Altran, the air traffic control consulting industry of London is presently going through a period of innovation-driven growth, more generally. In order to keep up with demand, professional services firm Air Partner obtained ownership of environmental and air traffic control services specialists SafeSkys last month. The firm, which works with clients in UK and international airports, will also expand Air Partner's consulting and training offering in the aviation safety segment.

This growth is by no means isolated to the UK, with Central European air traffic services provider FAB CE calling in consulting firms in October. Aviation consultancy Helios and Integra Consult were both hired to run its Programme Support Office (PSO) for the next three years.