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The UK’s leading air navigation services provider NATS has won a prestigious contract, paving the way for Bulgarian air traffic controllers to be trained at its state-of-the-art facility near Fareham in Hampshire.
Initially, nine trainee controllers from the Bulgarian Air Traffic Services Authority (BULATSA) are attending a ten-month course at NATS’ headquarters and these are likely to be followed by a further nine trainees on a similar course in 2017.
The formal contract of engagement also provides for NATS to review BULATSA’s emergency procedures and provide training for the Bulgarian authority’s in-house trainers.
Although BULATSA currently has the capacity to train ten air traffic controllers each year, demand for the group’s air traffic management services has grown in the face of a 23 per cent annual rise in the number of aircraft flying over Bulgaria since the introduction of flight restrictions in Ukrainian airspace.
Martin Rolfe, CEO at NATS, said:
“BULATSA is a progressive and robust company experiencing an acute growth in demand for its air traffic management services. I’m very pleased to confirm we have been appointed to conduct additional basic area training and develop group emergency procedures, especially as we have great expertise in both these areas.
“NATS is proud to be working in close co-operation alongside the group’s in-house trainers, enabling BULATSA to increase the number of suitably qualified air traffic controllers available to meet the demands of its increasingly busy airspace.”
BULATSA is a state-owned enterprise responsible for the planning and development of Bulgaria’s national air traffic management system. The group operates an area control centre in the capital, Sofia, where BULATSA’s NATS-trained air traffic controllers will work once qualified, and a further four local control centres at airports serving the Bulgarian cities of Varna, Burgas, Plovdiv and Gorna Oryahovitsa.