NATS makes a good compromise on Airfield AFPEx

 

In April this year, National Air Traffic Services (NATS) issued a letter explaining that whilst individuals would continue to have free access to the AFPEx on line Flightplan system, commercial entities (including aerodromes), would from July 1 2015 have to pay almost £2000 per annum to remain connected to the system.


Without aerodromes having access to the AFPEx system its viability would be limited for the private pilot, and for those aerodromes that remained on the system, the costs would undoubtedly have to be passed on to users. The LAA, through its involvement with the Future Airspace Strategy group, corresponded with NATS (as did other organisations) to find a more acceptable solution.


On June 8, NATS responded positively with the following comment:


... having listened to feedback from our users, we value there is mutual benefit to extend the AFPEx service free-of-charge to other small, non-commercial low volume users such as some General Aviation airfields.

 

Given the above, NATS will continue to provide a free service to low volume users subject to a Fair Usage Policy. NATS will be able to monitor a user’s usage and number of messages sent. The Fair usage limit will be determined by NATS, but as a general guideline we envisage fair use to be no more than 20 message transactions a day per user. Where, in NATS’ reasonable opinion, users routinely exceed fair use, they’ll be invited to switch to the charged service.

 

In addition to the above, NATS also confirms that it will support charitable or special events (such as air-shows); and reserves the rights to waive its fees depending on the event requirements. Event organisers should get in touch with us at least two months in advance of any event to discuss their needs, expected volume of traffic and period over which air traffic would be affected. NATS will then be in a position to advise on whether a fee will be charged on a case by case basis.

 

We believe this arrangement strikes the best balance between ensuring AFPEx remains viable for small airfields while at the same time securing the funding we need to invest in improving the service for the benefit of all users.

 

Well done NATS and all involved on reaching a pragmatic solution.

 

9th June 2015