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Visit to NATS, Prestwick

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Scotland branch members rated the visit to NATS Prestwick very highly. Members heard about NATS' ten year 1 billion modernisation project, part of which saw management of UK en-route airspace (northern sector) and oceanic areas transfer to the new custom-built facility at Prestwick.

A presentation by Franco Valente and his team gave an insight into the scale and challenges faced. The unique skillset of the employees required a large number of people to be relocated, the service could not be interrupted and the unhappy experience of the sister facility at Swanwick (late, over budget, services disrupted) increased the pressure for Franco and his team.

Franco described how lessons learned from Swanwick, were vitally important in designing the transition strategy for the Prestwick centre, and how managing the project with smaller committees made them more nimble and faster at solving emergent issues. Delivering NATS Prestwick ahead of schedule and under budget has made Franco and his team de facto experts for projects of this type.

Following the presentation, members weretaken to the viewing room to observe the controllers at work. Franco and his team took the floor for questions before receiving thanks and enthusiastic applause from all those who attended.

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