Potential Changes To North Atlantic Airspace


Potential changes to North Atlantic airspace

Trey Clark | - 02/07/2021

Due to a continued decrease in traffic across the North Atlantic, NATS and NavCanada may soon decide not to publish eastbound or westbound NAT Tracks when traffic levels allow.

Airlines and operators would be allowed to flight plan based on their optimum route, speed, and trajectory.

For decades, aircraft flying across the North Atlantic have followed the Organized Track Structure (OTS).

These tracks are a network used to maximize efficiency where there is no real-time aircraft surveillance.

The tracks change twice daily to take account of the changing winds.

Capacity on the most efficient routes has always been limited by the huge separation distances required.

That changed in 2019 when service providers started using ADS-B surveillance systems to monitor the North Atlantic air traffic.

Along with having real-time surveillance, ADS-B also allowed reduced separation distances which in turn offers aircraft more flexibility with their speed and trajectory.

The coming weeks will see NATS and NavCanada consider if the removal of OTS on select days is beneficial or causes disadvantages for airspace users.

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