Next Steps in Aviation Information System Interoperability

The OGC is off to a good start on another year of work with the international aviation information systems community. Earlier this month the tenth annual OGC Web Services testbed activity (OGC Testbed 10) kicked off, with Aviation as one if its main "threads". The AAtS (Aircraft Access to System Wide Aviation Management (SWIM)) Request for Information is out, and the SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) MOSIA consortium work is underway.

OGC Testbed 10 represents another major step forward in providing modern, web-accessible Aeronautical Information Services that can adapt as technology changes. EUROCONTROL, the FAA (US Federal Aviation Administration), the US NWS (NOAA National Weather Service), Harris Corporation and seven other government and private sector partners are sharing the costs of: validating the Flight Information eXchange Model (FIXM – a data interchange format for sharing information about flights throughout the flights' lifecycle); providing support for the Aeronautical Information Exchange Model (AIXM) in Dev Tools (J2EE, .NET); normalizing the exchange of terrain data; and much more. Building on what was done in OWS-9 and other initiatives, 29 technology provider participants in OGC Testbed 10 will develop, test and document open technical standards and best practices that will become part of the global aviation industry's interoperability framework, which will serve that industry for years to come. More information about OGC Testbed 10 is available here.

In the US: On September 23, the OGC issued a Request for Information (RFI) ( to engage the aviation community in identifying standards efforts relevant to the provision of aircraft connectivity to the FAA’s System Wide Information Management (SWIM) infrastructure.

The FAA’s Aircraft Access to SWIM (AAtS) initiative is in a preliminary stage of requirements development and standards identification. Its goal is to establish a common operating environment between the flight deck, air traffic management and Airline Operational Control/Flight Operational Control (AOC/FOC) for collaborative strategic decision-making. Distribution of the operational information needed to support safe movement of aircraft during all phases of flight in the US National Airspace System (NAS) will increase capacity and efficiency and result in more timely departures and arrivals.  

There are a number of aviation standards in development, concurrently and independently, by a variety of industry groups that are also developing requirements and standards to leverage ground-based aviation related information and data networking technology for aircraft operations. The need to understand the scope, applicability and relationship between these efforts is both critical and timely. The OGC is contributing to this coordination effort.

In Europe: The Single European Sky ATM Research programme (SESAR Joint Undertaking) has entered its next phase with the continuing involvement of a consortium that includes the OGC and OGC members.  This consortium, called Modeling Support with Standards for Information and Architecture models applied to Aviation (MOSIA), is playing a substantial role in the development of the technology architecture for the Single European Sky (SES), a next-generation air traffic control infrastructure in Europe enabling the safe and environmentally friendly development of air transport. In aviation information technology as in other domains, standards are recognized as providing a critical platform for innovation and market development.

The SESAR work is essentially about aligning the SESAR SWIM work (model and implementations) with OGC standards, and leveraging the OGC IP agile development model to quickly prototype and demonstrate technical concepts. Work proceeds in these areas:

  • Assessment of Temporality in Aviation Information Reference Model (AIRM)/Information Service Reference Model (ISRM) and alignment of these models with the OGC Temporality model
  • Recommendation on 3D Geometries in AIRM and adoption of true 3D geometries
  • SWIM Runtime Registry Service and use cases and documentation of requirements for run-time discovery of services
  • Tracing service payload to AIRM
  • Improved quality and management of AIRM Code Lists
  • SWIM Prototyping, for identification of OGC-based service patterns that can be reused for SESAR geospatial and temporal entity services development and prototyping 

The OGC is thus supporting a major European Commission goal to transition from a product-centric to a data-centric approach in exchanging air transportation management (ATM) information. Similarly, the OGC is supporting a major US goal of enabling the sharing and reuse of information between diverse systems to deliver the right information to the right user at the right time and to increase interoperability among systems in the overall National Airspace System. (See the FAA's SWIM Program Overview.) It is reasonable to anticipate that other nations will use the same standards.

In summary, the net result of the common use of OGC standards in European and US aviation information is the improved communication of spatial aviation information for much of the world.