GAATS+ implemented at Scotland’s Prestwick Centre

The Gander Automated Air Traffic System (GAATS+) has been implemented at the Prestwick Centre in Scotland, which will complement the existing system across the North Atlantic at the Gander Control Center in Newfoundland.

The Gander Center is operated by Canada's air navigation service provider (ANSP) NAV CANADA.

The shared system has now been made operational at the Prestwick Centre and is being operated by UK ANSP NATS.

With the installation of this new technology, controllers will be able to manage traffic across the North Atlantic, which is considered to be the busiest oceanic airspace in the world.

"This is a hugely important development, not only for the immediate benefits it will deliver, but also for future technologies that the system will enable."

GAATS+ has come into effect as a result of the partnership between NAV CANADA and NATS since 2003.

Prestwick and Gander controllers will now be able to exchange messages using advanced automation, which will help in allowing improved coordination between the centres.

The other features of GAATS+ will help to further improve the safety and efficiency of transatlantic air routes and position the two organisations for future initiatives, including System Wide Information Management (SWIM), for better sharing and integration of air traffic management (ATM) system information.

NATS managing director-operations Martin Rolfe said: "The use of GAATS+ at the NATS Control Centre in Prestwick will greatly enhance the oceanic operation and increase efficiencies for us, as well as for our airline customers.

"This is a hugely important development, not only for the immediate benefits it will deliver, but also for future technologies that the system will enable. It is a further step towards a more harmonised operational and technical approach between all of the countries that manage aircraft over the North Atlantic."

Apart from increased data exchange, the technology will also enable the integration of safety net tools such as conflict prediction and conflict alert.

NAV CANADA president and CEO John Crichton said: "Both our customers and our controllers will benefit from increased functionality and greater commonality at both oceanic centres.

"This includes the seamless integration of ground-based ADS-B surveillance features in GAATS+, which will serve as the basis for the satellite-based ADS-B services offered by Aireon in 2018."