WATM: NATS signs Raytheon wind farm deal

Air traffic services company, NATS has awarded a contract to Raytheon to modify two key radars to mitigate against the interference caused by wind turbines.

Raytheon will now begin work to deliver a technical modification – developed over a three year programme called Project RM – that will mitigate the effects of turbines in the vast majority of cases.

The modification will be installed within the next two years.

The contract follows last month’s ground breaking agreement between NATS and developers SSE and Vattenfall to fund the work – something that will unlock up to 2.2GW of potential new wind energy across the UK.

Under planning rules, NATS is consulted on all wind turbine applications in the UK. In around two per cent of cases, the proposed turbines would cause interference to the radar signals used to direct aircraft. The turbine blades can appear as ‘clutter’ on radar screens and be mistaken for aircraft.

In those cases NATS often has to object to the development on the grounds of aviation safety, resulting in the application being turned down by the planning authority.

Andy Sage, NATS Head of Information, said: “Once we secured the funding for the work, we wanted to move as soon as possible to delivery because we know how important this is to the wind industry and in helping the UK meet its renewable energy targets.

“We have an excellent relationship with Raytheon and look forward to working with them to now make Project RM a reality.”

Managing director of Raytheon UK’s Defence and Air Traffic Management business, Richard Daniel, commented: “Raytheon’s broad range of radar technologies plays an important role in NATS’ development as a global leader in innovative air traffic solutions.

“Raytheon implemented the first European wind farm mitigation solution in the Netherlands over a year ago and continues to invest in this important technology which will deliver improved safety and reduced CO2 emissions for the UK’s air transport system as well as greater scope for wind farm developments.”

Project RM is the result of three years’ work between NATS, Aviation Investment Fund Company Limited (AIFCL) Developers, DECC, Crown Estate, Scottish Government and radar manufacturer Raytheon. Briefings will be held next month to explain to the wider industry the details of how the mitigation tool can be applied.

Posted in CAAs/ANSPs, Contracts, News, Safety

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