20th anniversary of Air Traffic Control

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Bondholder East Midlands Airport's Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower celebrates 20 years in operation with £130k investment to upgrade its radar room.

EMA has control of airspace up to 105,000 feet above ground level and covering an area of 150 sq miles. On average 320 aircraft movements pass through this space each day.

As well as serving just under five million passengers a year, EMA is the UK’s premiere airport for dedicated cargo aircraft, much of which flies in and out at night due to it not having any night flying restrictions. Therefore, the air traffic services team is on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is rotated amongst five teams (or watches) each consisting of six controllers and two assistants.

Already a very modern tower, EMA’s was one of the first to install electronic flight progress strips (many towers rely on paper copies even today). To ensure that the technology used remains ahead of the game, £130k has just been invested into upgrading its radar room. This will result in new electronic information display systems that speed up access to important information that controllers rely on, improved radar displays which better reflect the layout of the airspace that EMA has control of and more working positions to allow for growth in future resource.

Commenting on the challenges of operating a tower which is in use all hours of day and night, Paul Kay, EMA’s Air Traffic Services Manager, said: “As well as having the best office view in the region, I am very privileged to run the tower at EMA.

"During the 20 years that this tower has been in operation, the airport has grown considerably and that makes our job more exciting. I’m delighted that, on my watch, we have secured investment to upgrade the radar room to future proof it for years to come.”