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New head appointed for Airspace Change Organising Group

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Mark Swan (10880148)
Mark Swan (10880148)

Modernisation of the airspace over Stansted Airport and the rest of the UK is to be led by a former RAF air commodore.

Mark Swan has been appointed head of the newly created Airspace Change Organising Group (ACOG), set up by the Government.

He is currently group director of safety and airspace regulation and a board member at the Civil Aviation Authority, which oversees and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the UK.

A former air commodore in the Royal Air Force from 1979 to 2009, he has served as a fellow at the Institute of Directors and the Royal Aeronautical Society and a member of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots.

ACOG, commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Civil Aviation Authority as co-sponsors of airspace modernisation, will operate as an independent body within NATS (formerly National Air Traffic Services), the UK's main air navigation service provider.

Mr Swan and his team, drawn from across the industry, will be responsible for co-ordinating and managing at least 15 airspace change projects across 14 airports, including Stansted, over the coming years.

They will report into a steering group with representatives drawn from airlines, airports, NATS and the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. In developing its programme, ACOG will engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives of communities and other airspace users.

Combined with the development of new technology, the programme will:

help to reduce aviation’s carbon emissions, contributing to ambitions such as the global industry goal to reduce net emissions by 50% by 2050;

reduce the need for stacking, where aircraft join a circular queue to land at busy airports, helping to reduce carbon emissions and noise impact;

create opportunities for airports to manage how noise impacts on local communities, including the introduction of ‘planned breaks’ for noise respite;

increase the resilience of the air traffic network so we can all be more confident that holidays and travelling for work will not be affected by unnecessary delays; and

increase airport capacity, providing more choice and better value for passengers.

New technology may also provide opportunities to reduce the amount of controlled airspace used by airports for commercial flights, allowing greater access for general aviation users.

The programme is expected to cost £150m and will be industry-funded.

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