Airspace above Mountains

A Week in the Life: Airspace Lead – ATM Operations Specialist

In our second edition of a Week in The Life, we caught up with Vicki Hughes, one of our Operations Specialists at ANSL.

There are four Operations Specialists at Air Navigation Solutions (ANSL), all with different areas of expertise. Vicki’s specialism is Airspace. The UK‘s airspace is currently being modernised to ensure it is fit for the future, provides capacity and flexibility, and allows air traffic to operate efficiently. At ANSL we support our airport customers in this work, but we also deliver specific airspace related work packages, including Airspace Change Proposals and engaging in wider industry forums. Bringing together the expertise of an ANSP with our tailored Airspace capabilities means that we can support customers, especially those with smaller teams and less time and resource in-house, to achieve what’s important to them efficiently and effectively. This week we got an insight into the hard work that goes behind this.

Day 1: Working from Home

WITL - Airspace Lead - Day 1Like many of us this year, Vicki has been working both in the office and at home. But the switch to working on a virtual platform hasn’t stopped her from getting stuck into a wide variety of tasks each day. In Vicki’s role, she works closely with team members to contribute to various projects. These range from business development and operational solutions to horizon-scanning, safety and innovation.

WITL - Airspace Lead - Day 1

She says: “I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work on the development of operational solutions and within projects on a day-to-day basis. It makes my work really varied and, although a cliché, no two days are ever the same!”


Day 2: Edinburgh’s Airspace Change Proposal

On day two of Vicki’s week, she is meeting with the Edinburgh Airport team to work with them on their Airspace Change Proposal (ACP). She works closely with the Edinburgh Unit and the EAL Airspace team to support their timelines, planning and requirements. It’s important that the team works together proactively and meets regularly to allow everyone to talk things through.
However, lockdowns have meant that team meetings have become Teams meetings in recent months.

Vicki says: “I hope to go to Edinburgh as soon as possible as nothing beats face-to-face meetings and really working things out around a table instead of virtually.”

WITL - Airspace Lead - Day 2

Day 3: Engagement Groups


Another key part of Vicki’s responsibilities is representing ANSL in a series of groups. These range from engagement groups to focus groups and listening sessions on key industry initiatives.

One of these engagement groups is the Department for Transport’s Aviation Noise Engagement Group (ANEG). ANSL supports this initiative alongside airlines, airports, local communities, local authorities and ICCAN. Vicki says: “ANSL has recently joined this group as we can contribute valuable air traffic expertise alongside our industry colleagues at NATS.”
Vicki also takes time to coordinate ANSL’s response to important industry consultations, such as the DfT’s Night Noise Consultation.

Day 4: Unit Safety Case

WITL - Airspace Lead - Day 4 pic. 1

On day four of her week, Vicki focuses on an important piece of work she has been doing alongside the ANSL team at Edinburgh.

2020 created some unexpected quiet time for the aviation industry as a result of low traffic movements. At ANSL we used this to our advantage to develop and publish our Unit Safety Case for the Edinburgh operation, which Vicki was involved in.

The Unit Safety Case is important as it takes our current day-to-day safety assurance to a much higher level, and includes a newly developed, baselined and tested (with the CAA) assurance process for cyber security.

WITL - Airspace Lead - Day 4 pic. 2

Vicki says: “I have worked closely with our safety teams, Edinburgh engineers, ATCOs and project managers in order to publish this on time and continue its development.”

Day 5: Sustainability

Sustainability is becoming an important focus for many companies, and ANSL, dedicated to transforming the way ATM is delivered, has committed to sustainability as a key value for success.

WITL - Airspace Lead - Day 5

Vicki leads ANSL’s Sustainability Workstream, which is dedicated to investigating means by which ANSL can become more sustainable. One initiative already well underway is the movement away from conventional fuel cars to electric cars for the ANSL company car fleet which is used to move the team around the airport and further afield.

Vicki says: “At the end of last year, we focused on further developing our sustainability strategy. This has enabled us to drive measurable and substantiated progress and set realistic but ambitious targets for the future.”

We’ve learned that being an Operations Specialist is hard work but is pulled off successfully with the help of fantastic teamwork. Thank you to Vicki Hughes for sharing your week with us. It’s been fascinating learning how much you pack into a week!

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