The new air traffic control centre at Swanwick went live without a hitch last weekend, according to National Air Traffic Services (Nats).
The £623m centre was originally due to be in operation in 1996, and finally went live on 27 January at 12.53am when it took control of its first flight, an Airtours International hop from Las Palmas to Birmingham.
"We were expecting to transfer between 12am and 3am, and that the first live aircraft would be quite late at about 2.30am. In fact, the air traffic controllers were ready for flights just after midnight," said a Nats spokesman.
"There are some delays today but it's difficult to define the proportion that were late due to the weather," he added.
Nats chief executive Richard Everitt claimed that the Swanwick operation is the most technically advanced air traffic control centre in the world.
"Swanwick gives us the technological advances and operational headroom we need to handle safely a further million flights a year by 2011, in addition to the two million we handle today," he said. "We also plan to shorten flight delays from 1.5 minutes per flight to a new average of one minute or less."
Over the next 10 years, the plan is for air traffic services for London airports and all military air traffic operations to transfer to Swanwick.
Nats denied newspaper claims of problems with controllers' screens. "Air traffic controllers have two screens: a main radar screen and a supplementary screen. The Health and Safety Executive is asking for some clarification on the second screen, but there is no threat to safety," said the spokesman.
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