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NATSThe UK's National Air Traffic Service (NATS) currently provide access to 46 Doppler VHF Omni Range (D-VOR or more commonly just 'VOR') navigation beacons across the UK - these are usually co-located with Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) beacons which help guide pilots by locating their position in relation to them. A brief introduction to this navigational equipment and how to use it is provided to all UK PPL students as part of their training to give them the ability to position themselves accurately en route.

Due to the age of the equipment there is an imminent requirement to either replace or withdraw these systems. In consultation with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) a phased and gradual plan to replace or remove sites has begun. After an impact assessment work started on the first site (OTR) in April 2014 however problems have delayed it's replacement going live in June to December 2014, not a great start.


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The next two sites have been scheduled for replacement, BHD and LND, with impact assessments carried out for BHD as the next system to be upgraded. Feedback from Airports in respect of how these changes will affect them (or not) has been sought and received but the AIC (http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/InformationNotice2014199.pdf) does not address how the loss of these facilities may affect en route pilots operating aircraft with standard VOR equipment.

Pilots are advised to keep up to date with these AICs and be prepared to lose VOR/DME navigation aids for a protracted period of time, potentially for much longer than has been planned.

 

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