National Air Traffic Services (NATS) provides air navigation services to the United Kingdom and to internationally agreed areas outside the UK. In the mid eighties, it could be observed that air travellers were increasingly experiencing delays to their schedules, and so NATS attempted to introduce major changes to their air traffic control centre at West Drayton. However, this attempt ran into much difficulty and further studies showed that the West Drayton facility would run out of capacity by 1996. Therefore NATS motioned to replace the facility, that had little room for expansion to meet future demand, with a new facility on a greenfield site in Swanwick.
This facility would become the new London Area and Terminal Control Centre (LATCC) and the proposal aimed to produce 40% additional capacity to accommodate the delays that NATS were currently facing. The project not only involved a new site but a new software system that claimed to be "more advanced than anything that is being tried anywhere in the world." The software was to be based on that of a similar project in the US, therefore minimising technological risk. The project was set up as a fixed price contract with a cost of £350 million.
Project life Cycle
The initiation phase of this project began back in 1988 with a solid proposal and reasoning for the project. As we know, project success depends on effective front-end phases' though, and feasibility for this project was not be tested. Although it used a specially-selected NATS committee, the project appeared to lack adequate consultation with staff members. The new Swanwick centre proposed an overly optimistic opening date of 1996.
The planning phase took 3 years to comple...
... middle of paper ...
...oduce a high quality system only hindered the project further and it would have been beneficial to have followed Amsterdam's example with their ATC centre which used their previous system with some new hardware and function enhancements.
Another contributing factor to the failure of quality, which is crucial as the system must be safe and reliable to ensure passenger safety, is the lack of input from future users. They were left feeling cautious, concerned and not listened to. One expert felt it was paramount users trusted the system and could use it easily. The system was continually modified to meet their needs which came too late and fed back to the feeling of distrust and lack of faith in the new system. Furthermore, the failure to undertake an independent audit to confirm whether the project was on target meant that fundamental problems were not identified.
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