NATS secures QinetiQ contract renewal

UK based air traffic services provider NATS has been awarded a seven year contract extension to continue its work with QinetiQ, the defence technology company that operates a number of Ministry of Defence test and evaluation air ranges.

The contract renewal will see specialist NATS air traffic controllers facilitating live weapons tests at ranges throughout the UK, including the use of state of the art fighter aircraft, armoured vehicles, ships and Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS).

QinetiQ operates and manages some of the MOD’s core Test and Evaluation (T&E) Air Ranges in the UK at MOD Aberporth, MOD Hebrides and MOD West Freugh. All of the ranges are operated under a 25 year Long Term Partnering Agreement, which delivers T&E and training support services to the MOD.

Working with QinetiQ at the ranges is very different to conventional air traffic management. NATS’ role is to advise on and devise the air traffic management element of each trial, working to ensure the vehicles – whether they are fighter jets, RPAS, ships or tanks – are where they need to be for any particular test to ensure that the right data can be captured for analysis.

Air traffic controllers also have to keep the airspace ‘sterile’. Infringements into segregated ‘Danger Area’ airspace are always an issue wherever they occur, but never more so than where fast jets and live weapon trials are taking place.

Catherine Mason, NATS Managing Director Services, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen to continue our close relationship with QinetiQ. The work at Aberporth and the ranges is hugely important to UK defence and NATS has some of the world’s most respected expertise in managing the ATM element of these highly specialised and vital trials.”

Rik Sellwood at QinetiQ said: “By putting this contract out to competition we have reaffirmed that NATS is well positioned to meet our requirements, while ensuring that we are getting the best value for money for the UK taxpayer. This process will result in efficiency savings over seven years and looks certain to further strengthen our proven relationship with NATS.”

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