The airspace above and around South East England is some of the busiest in the world and is likely to remain so for many decades to come

UK airspace was designed in the 1950s for aircraft which were much less capable than today’s aircraft. Making sure that modern planes can perform to the best of their ability - together with the fact that there are now many more of them in our skies - means we must make changes now. The ambition of airspace modernisation is to help make journeys ‘quicker, quieter and cleaner’.

If we don’t modernise now, we could see delays increase exponentially in the future and we will not be able to reduce environmental impacts particularly around CO2 and noise.

New technology will help deliver more capacity and keep the UK moving by reducing delays; a redesigned route network will facilitate optimised aircraft performance. That is why the Government, the UK aviation industry and the Civil Aviation Authority are working together to modernise our airspace. Gatwick believes that airspace modernisation will unlock a wide range of benefits, for example:

  • Modernisation may provide more choice and value for passengers. More destinations could open up and increase competition, which could reduce the cost of flying as less fuel will be used.
  • Modernising our airspace will improve the resilience of flight schedules, so we can all be more confident that our holidays and business trips will not be affected by costly delays.
  • It will also make it easier for today’s modern aircraft to fly to their full capability with unrestricted climbs and later descents to help reduce the noise footprint on the ground. 

The UK’s airspace modernisation strategy sets out a range of connected initiatives which are aimed to deliver wholesale change. This will be one of the most complex change programmes the aviation community have embarked upon.

The initiative in which Gatwick is playing a significant role, which will change the architecture of the airspace design across the South East of England, is the Future Airspace Strategy Implementation - South or FASI-S. The DfT has asked NATS/NERL to lead on the re-design of airspace above 7,000 feet and all airports affected, including Gatwick, to lead their own airspace changes below 7,000 feet. All changes will be overseen by the CAA and follow the airspace change process set out in the CAA’s CAP 1616. 

As part of airspace modernisation, the airport is legally required to introduce the latest navigation technology as stated in the European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 2018/1048 on the Performance Based Navigation (PBN). The PBN concept contributes to the deployment of the European Air Traffic Management Master Plan and it is expected that the EU requirements related to PBN will be transposed into UK law.

Gatwick Airport was able to secure partial funding to support important airspace and technology projects key to airspace modernisation through the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) (Project Reference Number: 2014_091_AF1).

Further details about our part in the FASI-South programme, the desired benefits, our schedule for engagement and how you can input into this programme can be found on the CAA’s airspace change portal where you can register an interest in any of our airspace changes.

Further information about how and why UK airspace is changing is on Our Future Skies website.

Disclaimer: The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Gatwick Airport Ltd and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.


Airspace modernisation Q&As

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Airspace modernisation and Gatwick Q&As

How will airspace modernisation be planned and implemented at Gatwick? 

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