Change in our airspace has already happened, but “this decade we need to make that extra step for the industry” explains Martin Rolfe, CEO of the National Air Traffic Services (NATS).

NATS are working towards modernising our airspace by expanding the height of flight and the shortening duration in the air. “You look back even over the last 10-15 years, we’ve had sustainable aviation and actually if we take NATS, we’ve been doing the sustainable operations for a long while in terms of improving fuel efficiency if aircraft flying through the UK airspace, shortening routes, straightening routes. This is what you do to reduce fuel usage, therefore reducing CO2. I think it’s already happening, but this decade we need to made that extra step.”

“Our biggest contribution is in airspace modernisation, so the airspace above us that everybody flys in the UK, which was probably designed in the 1970’s. It’s like a network of B-roads so rather than motorways, rather than being structured and more efficient. What we’re doing now is the modernisation of that and the government is very supportive of that.

Watch the video above to capture Rolfe and NATS vision of this modernisation and how partnerships and collaborations are pivotal.

No shortage of ambition

When asked about the scale of progress in the industry and the net-zero targets, Rolfe detailed: “It is going to take a massive effort from the whole industry to reach net-zero emissions. The industry is absolutely in line with doing that. There is no shortage of ambition but it’s got to take the right government policy, it is going to take the right technology on the ground and in the air. And finally, it’s going to take new vehicles and engines, hydrogen fuels, it needs it all.”

Industry collaboration

“Industry collaboration particularly in the UK is going pretty well. One of the biggest challenges we’ve got is sustainable aviation fuels and the infrastructure we’ve got to deliver those. So I think those collaborations need to be accelerated which is a challenge as it requires the policies which require the government to support.

Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter