Whether it’s trade, exports, tourism or work, our aviation industry is central to how we travel and do business with the worldby Mark Swan / November 14, 2019 / Leave a comment
Mark Swan – a man who has spent most of his career in the skies – has been tasked with coordinating the delivery of a national programme of airspace change in the UK. As he begins his role as head of the newly established Airspace Change Organising Group (ACOG), he sets out some of the challenges and opportunities ahead.
The UK’s aviation network is the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world. The sector supports 960,000 jobs, contributes over £22 billion to the UK economy and provides access to the world for millions of passengers and entry to global markets for thousands of businesses across the country.
Whether it’s trade, exports, tourism or work, our aviation industry is central to how we travel and do business with the world. And as the UK seeks to forge new links and global connections, our future prosperity will depend on the ability to reach out to the rest of the world through the strength of our aviation network.
The UK’s airspace, the network of routes and connections that make up the hidden infrastructure of the skies, currently handles around 2.5 million flights a year and carries nearly 300 million passengers. It also supports military train- ing and a community of general aviation enthusiasts and now both commercial and other drones. Forecasts suggest demand for air travel will increase, with as many as 350 million passengers using 3.25 million flights by 2030. As the aviation industry grows, it is committed to do so sustainably – developing more efficient technology, cleaner fuels and quieter planes.
It may seem strange to refer to our airspace as infrastructure considering there is nothing to see. However, just as traffic is directed by roads and trains by railways, so too are the skies made up of an intricate network of routes that keep aircraft flying safely.
Yet, while the roads and railways have been continuously improved and upgraded over many years, our airspace has remained largely unchanged for several decades. Meanwhile aircraft technology – and the way they navigate – has come a long way. As a result, modern aircrafts are not being used as effectively, or efficiently, as they could be.
Improvements in technology…