Air Traffic Management Strategy

AFIS Centre of Excellence

HIAL currently has four airports providing an Aerodrome Flight Information Service (AFIS) located at Barra, Campbeltown, Islay and Tiree.   Benbecula and Wick John O’Groats airports are currently going through a change management process to realign their Air Traffic Service (ATS) from an Air Traffic Control Service (ATC) to an AFIS.  This is a more appropriate and proportionate level of service given the low density, low complexity nature of operations at both airports.  This will bring the total number of HIAL airports providing full-time AFIS to six.

The AFIS function is a crucial element of HIAL’s ATS structure and the realignment to AFIS at Benbecula and Wick airports presents the opportunity to enhance the management, coordination and development of the AFIS function across the company.   To future proof HIAL’s AFIS in line with operational requirements and regulatory momentum, HIAL intends to develop a capability to deliver a range of qualitative AFIS training and development courses, including classroom and simulation training for its Aerodrome Flight Information Service Officers (AFISOs).  To deliver this much needed service for the HIAL group, the concept of an AFIS Centre of Excellence (CoE) was developed.  

Benbecula was proposed as the ideal location for the CoE given its central location to the HIAL’s other AFIS airports.  Furthermore, it will provide additional development opportunities for the Benbecula ATS team, and the Wick ATS team who will also support the delivery of training, the airport and the local community by creating additional economic benefits for the island.

The proposal to create an AFIS Centre of Excellence at Benbecula Airport was approved by the ATMS Programme Board in June 2020. 

The project to deliver the CoE, which is an addition to the projects in the ATMS Programme, started in August 2020 and is currently running in parallel with the project to change the level of ATS at Benbecula from Air Traffic Control (ATC) to AFIS. 

We recognise the scale of change that this will bring for the air traffic team at Benbecula and will work closely with our colleagues to deliver the programme with their invaluable input.

The CoE at Benbecula is currently scheduled to be complete in April 2022 and will become the hub for management and coordination of the AFIS function across the HIAL estate. 


AFIS Centre of Excellence:  Concept of Operations (CONOPs).

Based on an opening date of April 2022, the CoE at Benbecula should be in a position to deliver its first AFISO course by June/July 2022.  The aim will be to deliver up to two AFISO courses and two Flight Information Display (FID) courses per year.   

Our expectation is that in time an AFISO Trainer course, a Senior AFISO course and an AFISO Refresher Course will be added to the list of courses delivered at the Centre of Excellence. By the end of year two of operation, April 2024, the CoE should have developed sufficient competence and expertise to market courses within the wider industry.