12 June 2002

Air traffic screens are safe, insists Nats chief

By Cahal Milmo

Complaints from air traffic controllers that information on their computer screens is too small to read may not be resolved until November.

National Air Traffic Services (Nats), the partly privatised company in charge of controlling the
skies, said it had to consult its staff before bringing in any software changes.

Concerns about the screens at the new £623m control centre at Swanwick in Hampshire were first raised in January. Staff have complained that the letters and numbers designating aircraft call signs and altitude are so small they sometimes cannot be told apart.

But Richard Everitt, the Nats chief executive, told a committee of MPs that reports that the
problem had led to passenger jets being sent to the wrong altitude or destination were not true. He insisted that the screens had no impact on safety.

The Government has confirmed it is preparing to put a further £65m into Nats.