Smooth European air traffic switch
LONDON, England -- The feared air delays for passengers predicted because of a change of air traffic control systems have not materialised, airports have said.
Problems were anticipated to last about 10 days after the introduction of two new air traffic systems in the UK and Brussels on Sunday.
But early indications show the transitions have gone smoothly.
National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which controls all civil planes and some military flights over England and Wales, said the switch to a new centre in Hampshire, southern England, had gone smoothly on Sunday.
Richard Everitt, chief executive of NATS, said: "This successful switch...is one of the largest and most complex logistical transitions in air traffic history."
Stansted Airport in Essex said on Sunday it had not recorded any problems, and did not expect any on Monday.
Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based body which co-ordinates air traffic control across the continent, has brought in new aircraft separation rules.
Initial reports from Eurocontrol's 41 member states indicate the new rules were introduced without undue delays for passengers, the agency said.
NATS opened after years of delay and extra expenditure.
Staff at the new headquarters, which was originally scheduled to go live in 1996, has taken over much of the work of the London control centre, near Heathrow airport.
The repeated delays to the opening of Swanwick, Hampshire, have been due to computer software problems at a centre which contains state-of-the-art systems that replace the old 'wooden box' system of air traffic control.
The delays meant that the cost of the centre rose by nearly £150 million to £623 million.
The Eurocontrol changes involve a reorganisation of Europe's airspace and the introduction of new rules for aircraft flying in Europe.
The measures reduce the minimum vertical separation distance between planes allowing for more flights.
Europe changes air traffic rules
January 27, 2002
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