NATS launches new flight tracking app

10 Apr 2017 by BusinessTraveller
NATS Airspace Explorer

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) has launched a new flight tracking app for iPads.

The air navigation service provider said the Airspace Explorer app is the first of its kind to use “the same data that air traffic controllers use to safely guide the 6,500 aircraft that fly through the skies each day”, giving it the unique ability to track all aircraft in the UK, and to refresh “at a fast rate”.

The app also provides a 3D view of the structure of UK airspace, giving users a sense of the altitude of aircraft, and of the shape and size of the areas of controlled airspace in the UK.

Matthew Mills, NATS head of digital communications, said:

“Airspace Explorer is based on an internal app we have at NATS, and while it’s similar to other flight tracking apps out there we’ve included some unique and exciting features that we hope will give users an insight into the airspace as we see it.

“Our airspace is really the invisible infrastructure that underpins civil aviation, but it’s complex and layered. To help see and understand these highways in the sky we’ve included a unique 3D mode that shows flight paths and airspace structures. The addition of radar data for the UK also means users can get a very accurate picture of aircraft arrival and departures routes.”

Users can pan, zoom and move around the airspace in 3D, enabling them to learn about its structure and to view flight paths in and out of airports.

An iPhone version of the app is under development, and other platforms are also being considered.

The launch of Airspace Explorer is in keeping with past NATS activity, which aims to broaden public knowledge about our skies. A year ago the air navigation service launched a course for drone users to greater understand how to navigate airspace safely, while last August it appeared in the BBC Two series Skies Above Britain, which uncovered the congestion in UK skies and “the sheer variety of airspace users”.

Phoebe Jayes

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