In 2005 the journey to Terminal Control's new home began. As an ATC support manager at West Drayton, I led a dedicated team which was responsible for all operational aspects of the move, alongside managing the day to day operations.
My team began to draw up detailed plans exploring all of the elements required for the move. This included building our server rooms which power the 24/7/365 operation and upgraded systems.
As for the new operations room, we decided that input from the Controllers themselves was crucial, and so we ran a competition asking for design ideas that we could incorporate into the final build.
PHOTO: London Terminal Control at West Drayton
PHOTO: The empty Terminal Control Room in Swanwick
A vital part of the move to Swanwick was developing training for controllers on the new systems that they would be using once the new centre was up and running.
This included reviewing and updating operational procedures. These updates paved the way for future developments in the way we manage air traffic and have helped to ensure that we can safely manage high levels of air traffic as they continue to rise.
PHOTO: Kitted out Terminal Control Room in Swanwick
By 2006, everything was in place technically. We were given the opportunity to choose a transition night, so we chose the 23rd November 2007. It was great to be given the freedom, however once we selected this Operational date (O Date) we were committed to achieving it, which was hugely challenging.
As the project progressed towards O date a huge number of operational tests were required which had to be undertaken during the night to avoid disruption as traffic levels are much lighter. Air traffic controllers have strict working time guidelines, but we needed their help to test and validate equipment. It was a challenging task to manage things carefully so we had enough operational staff to conduct tests whilst others kept the skies safe from West Drayton.
Night of the transition
On the transition night I stayed at West Drayton with the Director of Operations - Ian Hall. As part of the transition process we needed to maintain normal operations at West Drayton until systems could be transferred to the new centre at Swanwick.