COAST is a collaborative change programme between the UK air traffic management organisation, NATS, and its Canadian counterpart, Nav Canada, that is delivering significant improvements in efficiency for airlines operating in the world’s busiest oceanic airspace, the North Atlantic.

The first delivery of COAST (Collaboration on Oceanic Airspace, Systems and Tools) saw NATS deploy the Nav Canada GAATS+ (Gander Automated Air Traffic System) to the NATS Oceanic operation.  GAATS+, used now by both organisations from their Operations Centres in Prestwick, Scotland and Gander, Newfoundland, safely controls approximately 1,200 North Atlantic aircraft movements daily from the Americas, to Europe and the Middle East.

In addition to improving safety, GAATS+ also offers controller support tools that routinely identify and target fuel saving opportunities for individual flights, whilst delivering workload reductions for controllers.

GOFLI, a controller support tool within GAATS+, searches for more efficient flight levels, comparing each flight with other flight trajectories along its route to find one that can be assigned.  Controllers, using controller-pilot satellite datalinks, then offer these more efficient levels to the aircraft.

Since the transition to GAATS+ in November 2014, the NATS team is on track to achieve a reduction of over 120,000 tonnes of CO2 during this first year, an opportunity welcomed by airlines due to a $20 million per year savings in fuel costs.

With GAATS+, the COAST programme has more opportunities ahead for efficiency gains.  Further planned reductions in lateral and longitudinal separations will create more capacity at the most fuel efficient levels to deliver even greater efficiency. COAST will also be able to utilise the additional capabilities enabled by combining real-time satellite communications and ADS-B aircraft surveillance expected in 2018, transforming the efficiency of flight operations across the world’s busiest oceanic airspace.