How will SWIM enable emerging airspace users to deploy their services safely and efficiently


Peter Green, Head of Standardisation at EUROCONTROL, highlights the ways standardisation of SWIM services can support the development of the future ecosystem to accommodate emerging airspace users such as High-Altitude Platform Systems (HAPS), Urban Air Mobility (UAM), commercial space vehicles, supersonic airliners and drones.

When we talk about enabling the full range of new entrants, we need to consider the specificity of their operations and the data services required by these and existing users. Standardisation can help accelerate the deployment of data services by ensuring that new System Wide Information Management (SWIM) services can be deployed as new concepts emerge.

SWIM is the platform for quickly enabling new services based on agreed standards and best practices in information technology including a Service Oriented Approach (SOA). With SWIM, business services interoperability is enabled, focusing on all aspects related to harmonised exchange of information, from data exchange formats and protocols (syntactic interoperability), to information semantics, reducing deployment costs and time.

SWIM is here now

SWIM is already in operation with initial use mandated through the European Commission’s Pilot Common Project. The Network Manager (NM) has been a pioneer of SWIM deployment with the Business-to-Business (NM B2B) web services covering flight services (flight preparation, flight plan filing and management), airspace services (management and publication of airspace information), general information services and flow services (flow & capacity management).

In addition, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and airports are also deploying SWIM services in various information domains

  • Aeronautical Information Management services like Map Information, Aeronautical Information Feature and Aeronautical Information Map are focused on the exchange of aeronautical information and the provision of digital maps to increase cooperation and functionality.
  • MET Hazard Service is focused on a harmonised, pan-European framework for weather information availability to all users that defines the services of exchanging weather phenomena data. Using the new access points, the MET data can be made available, improving planning, optimising flight paths and reducing delays. Its related services (en-route forecast, METAR, MET Report and terminal aerodrome forecasting (TAF)) aim for an increased interoperability via SWIM, and therefore they are proposed for standardisation.
  • A-CDM (Airport Collaborative Decision-Making) service provides situational awareness at airports on flights and times. With the help of SWIM, these will be enhanced, providing more accurate and real-time planning operations.
  • AMAN (Arrival Manager), a project deployed in many countries to support air traffic controllers by an automated sequencing, will be improved with SWIM service between the entities to ensure a proper coordination between the existing AMAN systems and the air traffic service units (ATSUs). In the context of extended AMAN concept horizon, services consuming arrival information such as the Arrival Planning and the arrival management input services are proposed for standardisation. Their focus is on AMAN information provided to the ATSUs, arrival sequence calculation and traffic sequencing improvements.
  • Virtual Centre services enable decoupling controller human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and flight data processing (FDP) systems to allow for the use of FDP services across several ANSPs without the need to develop a physical system. This relates to several services such as airspace status distribution, correlation distribution, coordination and transfer management, datalink management, flight data management, flight data distribution and operational configuration distribution.

As industry further adopts SWIM for these and other services, critical mass can be achieved and speed of deployment increases. This emphasises how targeted standardisation activities with all civil and military stakeholders in support of deployment, contributes to better infrastructure, services and business efficiency.

The future of infrastructure is yellow

The Technical Infrastructure (TI) layer in SWIM addresses the protocols (standardised technical interfaces) and configurations needed for the exchange of information between systems including security requirements. The TI requirements for different types of service are described in profiles – each with its own colour.

The Yellow Profile is currently the only TI profile that is standardised and required by regulation, being deployed widely in support of many heterogeneous services. It provides a common infrastructure baseline that fulfils or can be extended to fulfil most of the services required by current and future users. It is described in all necessary detail in the EUROCONTROL Specification for SWIM Technical Infrastructure (TI) Yellow Profile, which is freely available on the EUROCONTROL website. The use cases of the Yellow Profile or others will expand to other areas of air traffic management (ATM).

Compliant services benefit us all

To deploy a new business service requires a SWIM service to be developed and placed in the SWIM registry. Service providers identify services and advertise them in the registry. It is like the internet but a managed and regulated internet with authorised users, validated services and proper security. An internet suitable for aviation.

That does of course mean that getting your service into the SWIM registry comes with suitable hurdles to protect the overall stability and security of the system. Clearing those hurdles means adhering to the underpinning standards for describing SWIM services:

  • EUROCONTROL Specification for SWIM Service Description: These are the requirements for describing information services. They cover service consumers’ needs and consider services from a business, operational and technical point of view. The details of a deployed service such as behaviours, information provided, legal and security constraints are included and made available to consumers for a better understanding of what the service does and how it works. This helps users to assess the operational and technical data in terms of usage and quality. In support of business decision-making, the standard provides a list of general requirements and service interface requirements.
  • EUROCONTROL Specification for SWIM Information Definition: The Information Definition standard on the other hand presents information definitions specifications, known as formal descriptions of the exchanged information that ensures a cleared and harmonised shared information. It aims at information to be clearly defined, understood and harmonised between stakeholders contributing to semantic interoperability. The specification enables the use of common data definitions as described in the ATM Information Reference Model (AIRM).

Where a SWIM service has a wide role requiring use by many users, it may help for the Service Description to be standardised (for example EUROCAE specification for the Extended AMAN Service), but well-formed service descriptions can be approved for use (and operationally validated in multiple environments) without this step. This may well be crucial for helping new entrants access the aviation and ATM data that best suits them – weather information at different altitudes, current usage of very low-level airspace or declaration of emergencies requiring short notice cancellation of planned missions. SWIM is not just about service providers defining the services, but also about the users helping to refine those services in line with their business needs. This is genuine interoperability, not harmonisation. Subtle flavours of the same basic service can exist to support specific requirements and it is this flexibility that will really help UAM and Space Tour operators access the data they need.

SWIM is the universal enabler

Over the recent years, the ATM industry has successfully implemented several projects based on SWIM. The benefits, in terms of systems connectivity and flexibility of service design, are increasing confidence that a smooth transition to the future system is within reach for all aviation stakeholders.

As we move forward to the Digital European Sky, future concept developers can rely on SWIM as a universal enabler for the safe and secure exchange of data of all users of the airspace existing or emerging.

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