High-flying air traffic control goes to Qatar

ALERT Alistair Brown, a sector controller on the London upper sector, at NATS last year. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (120533-6)
ALERT Alistair Brown, a sector controller on the London upper sector, at NATS last year. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (120533-6)
Picture: Malcolm Garbutt

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THE National Air Traffic Service which looks after airspace across the UK is flying high after announcing it is will be working with Qatar to build a new airport for the 2022 football world cup.

NATS, which operates from Swanwick and has its head office in Whiteley, is working with the hosts of football’s most high-profile sporting event to ensure the control room at the airport operates at maximum efficiency.

NATS will be exporting best practice and training staff to work at maximum efficiency in the Qatar air traffic control room.

This includes its leading design which helps keep air traffic controllers awake during their working hours.

Neil May from NATS said: ‘We are delighted to be working with Qatar to ensure they get the best performance out of their air traffic controllers.’

NATS is leading the way when it comes to stopping air traffic controllers nodding off at work, and Mr May explained why design operation is so important.

He said: ‘We have to look at everything an air traffic controller does and then design the environment in which they work to really get the best out of them. We ensure that the operations room is very bright to make sure all our air traffic controllers are alert, and keep noise distraction to a minimum.

‘We design operation areas so that noise does not travel from one end of a room to the other, and work stations are designed so that the information the controller needs is easily accessible, and presented in a way that is easy to understand’.

This is the latest development for the team at NATS after it won the President’s Award for Excellence in operation design from the Institute of Ergonomics in 2010. It introduced a training course, accredited by the British Psychological Society, which they are in the process of rolling out internationally.

Currently, all NATS air traffic controllers are undertaking awareness sessions teaching them to understand the causes of fatigue so they can manage themselves and turn up ready to work.

Mr May added: ‘We are very pleased and incredibly proud that we are now leading the world in the application of design technology in this area of air traffic control.’