Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Airport's radar service unveiled

HIA said the radar would help make flights more fuel efficient

The busiest airport in the Highlands and Islands now has its own radar service, ending its reliance on military air traffic controllers.

Inverness Airport's project cost 3.6m and took 36 months to complete.

Since 1999, RAF Lossiemouth was responsible for providing a radar service to aircraft.

The growth in traffic at Inverness meant that Highlands and Islands Airports (HIA) took the decision to develop its own service.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson visited the state-owned airport to officially mark the project's completion.

HIA said the radar service allowed the airport to handle air traffic more efficiently, increase its overall capacity and aid in the design of new approach procedures which will reduce aircraft fuel burn and noise.

The airport has had terrific support from the personnel at RAF Lossiemouth over the years
Stewart Stevenson
Transport Minister

Between 1999 and 2008, passenger numbers at Inverness doubled from 350,000 a year to more than 700,000 a year.

Over the same period, aircraft movements increased from 27,500 per year to 40,000.

Mr Stevenson said the new radar would deliver benefits for the economy of Inverness and the wider region.

He said: "The airport has had terrific support from the personnel at RAF Lossiemouth over the years, but it is great to see Inverness getting its own dedicated radar system.

"This 3.6m investment will create new jobs, improve skills and bring greater connectivity for the Highland and Islands. It will also reduce aircraft fuel burn and cut down on noise levels."

Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIA, said it had been a unique project for the company.

He added: "We also recognise the pivotal role that the RAF has played since 1999 in providing radar services at Inverness.

"Its co-operation and support have been crucial to achieving a smooth transition to the airport-based service which will ensure a safe and efficient operation at Inverness in the years ahead."

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