[Avionics Today 12-21-2015] The recent completion of the fourth edition of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking's System Wide Information Management (SWIM) Master Class shows that various aviation stakeholders are increasingly becoming aware of the SWIM concept and its practical usage in enhancing Air Traffic Management (ATM). According to SESAR, the Master Class has become an important global platform to build a critical mass of knowledge about SWIM and to help translate the concept into real world solutions.
SWIM Master class participants. Photo: SESAR JU.
The International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) SWIM concept manual describes SWIM as a "significant change in the business practices of managing information during the entire life cycle of an ATM process." The goal of the SWIM concept of operations for SESAR, the FAA and others is to create a net-centric ATM platform that provides quality information to the right people with the right systems at the right time. These stakeholders include airline flight dispatch teams, air traffic controllers, pilots and more. Effectively, the SWIM environment will shift the ATM information architecture from point-to-point data exchanges to system wide interoperability.
In Europe, Eurocontrol has already deployed the basic ground-to-ground information management and distribution platform and infrastructure to enable what the future SWIM concept of operations will look like under a Single European Sky. With the SWIM Master Class, SESAR JU provides a jury of aeronautical technical experts that considers SWIM-enabled ATM information solutions under three categories: services, applications, and technical infrastructure. Earlier this month in Brussels, the fourth edition of the SWIM Master Class ended with a ceremony that featured 18 live demonstrations of services and applications showing what the future of SWIM could look like.
"Now that the data is becoming increasingly available, people start to discover what they can do with it, going from RPAS geo-fencing applications to innovative weather data being used in ATC simulators, etc., we are really moving ATM forward at a pace that is unprecedented. Previously in ATM we had lead times of 20 years before we could put something new in place. Today we have demonstrations of concepts for example that over a time period of less than 12 months have put totally new operations in place as it is so easy when you are following SWIM principles," Paul Bosman, manager of the SWIM unit at Eurocontrol, told Avionics Magazine.
Among those recognized by this year's SWIM Master Class was EUMETNET, a grouping of European national meteorological service providers that won the Best-in-Class award for the SWIM information services category with its 4D WeatherCube. The solution provides tailored meteorological information to ATM stakeholders translated into a user-specific data format via the SWIM-compliant "Met-Gate portal."
According to Ruben Flohr, ATM information management expert at SESAR JU, the future possibilities for SWIM are bright as the industry with organizations such as EUMETNET and others that participated in the Master Class are just scratching the surface as to the solutions that can become available.
"Even though our primary focus is on flight dispatch and flight briefings, I think we are also looking into further integration of flight operations aspect into the ATM operations by feeding updated flight information into complexity management and arrival management," Flohr told Avionics Magazine. "SWIM addresses all aspects, also dynamic updates of aeronautical and meteo information will also link in the future to in-flight updates all the way into the cockpit."
The Master Class also featured a case study showing how SWIM data is currently being used operationally to enhance ATM within the U.K. airspace. Originally launched as a trial procedure to cut aircraft holding times at Heathrow Airport, Cross-border Arrivals Management (XMAN) is allowing NATS air traffic controllers to work with others in surrounding airspace such as France, Ireland and Belgium to slow aircraft down up to 350 miles away from London to minimize holding times upon arrival in London. Traditionally, NATS could only influence an aircraft’s approach once it entered U.K. airspace, which can be only 80 miles from the airport. This previously limited the chance to manage the inbound flow of traffic. SWIM has allowed data about the aircraft while in its en route phase to be shared securely and seamlessly between NATS and ANSPs based in surrounding airspace.
Bosman said one of the primary reasons why the SESAR SWIM master class was established was to prove the benefits of SWIM. With similar SWIM related demonstrations and research occurring in the U.S., the SWIM concept is starting to become more of a reality, with each stakeholders within the ATM value chain discovering the benefits of new SWIM-enabled applications such as XMAN and 4D WeatherCube as they are increasingly introduced by industry.
"The regions that we see that are the most active are the ones with the highest increase in traffic — that’s the Middle East, Asia Pacific — are typically the ones that have the highest interest. The way that we have formally brought them all onboard is through an ICAO panel that we created which is called the information management panel. It had its first meeting in January, and is now meeting more regularly. On that panel we have Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States, ASECNA, CANSO, EUROCONTROL, IATA and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA), IFALPA," said Bosman.
SESAR JU is targeting June 2016 as its next major industry showcase of SWIM-enabled applications for ATM stakeholders.
"We are preparing SWIM global demonstrations which are targeting for June next year where we are connecting various global partners building on the same SWIM principles and also that will introduce some EFB applications coming from multiple vendors. It will be a mixture of simulation and shadow mode although we do have some footage of flight tests using test prototypes provided by the industry," said Flohr.