Air traffic services company NATS has launched the AFPEx Lite service that will enable small general aviation airports to file and receive flight plans.
The new service, available from July, is designed for small airfields that want to send and receive up to 200 messages a month and will cost £500 (US$670) per month. Users will be able to send and receive flight plans as well as access a help desk between 9am and 5pm, seven days a week.
The introduction of AFPEx Lite comes after the decision by NATS last year to begin charging users for the original AFPEx service following a review with the CAA. The move sparked debate and concern within the general aviation community, with the feedback prompting NATS to collaborate with the Airfield Operators Group (AOG) to find a way forward.
Mike Pearson, AOG Chairman, said, “We were very pleased that NATS agreed to meet the Airfield Operators Group having recognized the real potential that small airfields might be excluded from the new financial threshold set for AFPEx. The final solution negotiated, AFPEx Lite, will provide a welcome and more economic package for low usage airfields. The AOG forum based group is free to join and welcomes NATS’ agreement to maintain consultation channels on any future changes.”
Mark Balsdon, NATS head of data solutions, added, “Following the strength of feedback we recognized that we needed to find a way of ensuring smaller airfields have access to AFPEx to allow them to continue to offer the services their customers have come to expect. It’s been great to work with AOG to reach an outcome that I hope really works for everyone.
“Private pilots can continue to use AFPEx for free, while smaller airfields can now access the great value Lite service, leaving the full service for high volume commercial airfields and commercial only users.”