Every day, between two and three thousand aircraft fly across the North Atlantic between Canada, the United States and Europe. Airspace across the North Atlantic is divided into six Oceanic Control Areas (or OCAs). These OCAs are controlled by Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) working at different locations in different Countries.
NATS, working with the IAA (Irish Aviation Authority), is responsible for providing the air traffic control service to the Shanwick OCA. The IAA service is provided from Shannon in Ireland, and the NATS service provided from Prestwick in Scotland (hence ‘Shanwick’).
The Shanwick OCA is the busiest of all North Atlantic Airspace regions. It is often referred to as ‘the gateway to Europe’ and around 80% of all North Atlantic Air Traffic passes through it, demonstrating the strategic importance of our Prestwick Centre and UK airspace.
This visualization shows Transatlantic traffic over a 24 hour period taken from a day in August last year and shows 2,524 flights crossing the North Atlantic, of which 1,273 pass through the Shanwick OCA. At our busiest periods in the Summer, traffic can peak at 1,500 flights a day passing through the Shanwick OCA.
Find out more on our blog: nats.aero/blog/2014/06/north-atlantic-skies-gateway-europe/