Flybe’s chief operating officer is to leave the airline to head a major national programme to transform the UK’s airspace infrastructure.

Modernising the UK’s airspace will help to reduce the environmental impact of aviation and increase capacity.

Former RAF assistant chief to the air staff Sir Timothy Anderson, who joined the regional airline in 2014, will chair the cross-industry committee overseeing the newly created Airspace Change Organising Group (ACOG), co-ordinating a £150 million airspace change programme.

He will leave his current role at Flybe and take up the new position in September.

Today’s announcement completes the senior leadership of the group, following the appointment last month of Mark Swan from the Civil Aviation Authority to head the ACOG team reporting into the steering group. The steering group also includes senior executives representing airlines, airports and air traffic control organisation Nats.

Other committee members include easyJet head of flight operations David Morgan, British Airways head of infrastructure Neil Cottrell, Airport Operators Association CEO Karen Dee and Bristol airport CEO Dave Lees.

Combined with the development of new technology, the programme aims to:

  • help to reduce aviation’s carbon emissions, contributing to ambitions such as the global industry goal to reduce net emissions by 50% by 2050
  • reduce the need for stacking, where aircraft join a circular queue to land at busy airports, helping to reduce carbon emissions and noise impact
  • create opportunities for airports to manage how noise impacts local communities, including the potential for ‘planned breaks’ for noise respite
  • increase the resilience of the air traffic network, so we can all be more confident that both holidays and travelling for work will not be affected by unnecessary delays
  • increase airport capacity, providing more choice and better value for passengers.

ACOG will co-ordinate more than 15 airspace change projects across 14 airports and higher level airspace over the next decade.

ACOG was commissioned by the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority, and operates as an independent body within Nats.

Aviation minister Baroness Vere said“The modernisation of our airspace is essential to cut delays and make flying cleaner and quieter, while keeping pace with growing demand.

“It’s great to see the Airspace Change Organising Group delivering another accomplished appointment and I am sure that Sir Timothy and his team will help navigate the complexities involved as we work to transform our airspace infrastructure.”

Sir Timothy said: “The UK’s airspace structures have served the nation well but our dependence on air transport, and its continuing growth, drive an inescapable need to modernise our airspace design and use.

“By doing this intelligently we will increase capacity safely, and be able to exploit emerging technologies and smart design principles to ensure that we minimise the environmental impacts to tolerable levels.

“‘Low-to-no’ carbon is an entirely plausible direction of travel and one that we all can and should embrace.”