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Maximising air traffic and minimising flight delays with F1 technology

Madrid, 1 June 2019: On the ground, tension builds ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. For UK airspace, the all-Premier League clash looks set to make it one of the busiest days on record.

How does the aviation industry manage situations like this? One way is to draw inspiration from Formula 1, where state-of-the-art technology models thousands of scenarios every second to drive winning performances.

From the racetrack to the skies, here's how a collaboration between McLaren, Deloitte and NATS, the UK’s main air traffic controller, is taking flight.

A NATS-ural collaboration

The McLaren Deloitte alliance, combining the racing giant’s advanced simulation techniques with our data analytics capabilities, teamed up with NATS, which manages around 25 per cent of European air traffic. Performance Optimiser is the product of that collaboration.

The tool allows air navigation service providers – bodies which handle flight traffic – to model tactical decisions, both in the air and at terminals.

Using vast amounts of data and a digital replica of their operations, they can simulate how different decisions would have changed the outcome on any given day, helping them to review performance and plan for the future.

From managing weather conditions, to scheduling flights for major sports events, it can maximise air capacity and minimise delays. This is vital considering that, in 2018, the Airports Council International revealed that passenger traffic had increased by almost 30 per cent in the previous five years and is predicted to rise by 84 per cent by 2040.

“As the UK airspace becomes more crowded, it will be increasingly difficult to manage. The McLaren Deloitte alliance is working in collaboration with NATS to provide a solution powered by the concept of a digital twin,” said Martin Bowman, director for aviation technology at Deloitte.

“This product will enable NATS, as well as the global aviation community, to make the better decisions in managing the airspace.”

When it comes to applying Formula 1 thinking to our airspace, the sky’s the limit.

About NATS

NATS is a leading air traffic management and solutions company, established in the UK in 1962 and now operating in countries around the world.

NATS handled 2.5 million flights in 2018, covering the UK and eastern North Atlantic from its centres at Swanwick, Hampshire and Prestwick, Ayrshire. NATS also provides air traffic services at 14 UK airports, Gibraltar Airport and, in a joint venture with Ferrovial, a number of airport towers in Spain.

“On the surface, aviation and Formula 1 might seem like an unlikely collaboration, but we are increasingly looking at opportunities to work with people outside of the traditional aviation industry to find new ways to help our customers. NATS has a world-class capability in managing busy and complex traffic flows, and we’re already seeing the benefits of combining that expertise with what the McLaren Deloitte alliance does so well. I’m excited to see where this will go next.”

Martin Rolfe, Chief Executive Officer, NATS

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