Seven Ways SWIM is Changing Aviation Operations

By Jonathan Fath
Nov 23, 2016

In the realm of aviation, there is tons of information circulating. From flight plans to surveillance information to weather, the global air transportation industry is brimming with crucial data that can help change the way air traffic is managed, but only if it’s easily accessible by the stakeholders that need it most.

Enter System Wide Information Management (SWIM), a way to place all of that data in the same place, may it be within infrastructure or secure in the cloud. It is being used by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to manage their flight data, and is available around the world through SkyFusion.

Here are seven ways that SWIM is changing the landscape of aviation operations...

1. More Reliable Information for Faster Decisions

Have you ever wondered how accurate your next flight’s predicted arrival time is? Usually that information is managed by the airline, airport operations, and more! Sometimes it’s incomplete. With SWIM, it’s all stored in the same place and can be more easily referenced. If you’re worried about a single source of information, check three or four instead!

2. Collaboration When It’s Needed Most

In the event of an emergency, it is crucial that the right stakeholders are informed. If there’s a runway outage in Thailand, getting timely information to airlines inbound can prevent hours of delays! By having both Thailand and its incoming airlines getting access through the same system, it becomes easier to make real time decisions like slowing down flights and utilizing the remaining runways. With the power of SWIM, this can be enabled between systems or on its own platform.

3. Decreased Carbon Emissions

Did you know that one round-trip flight from New York to Europe or to San Francisco creates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person? Aviation alone is responsible for 12% of global carbon emissions!

The longer a flight is delayed on the runway or is in airborne holding, the more fuel is consumed which creates more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Through increased collaboration between stakeholders, the likelihood of a delay is significantly decreased. This means less fuel burned over time, and as a result, less carbon dioxide emissions over time.

4. Less Costs of Infrastructure

It’s no secret that most aviation communications and optimization tools only share information for a single stakeholder. Because of this, multiple sources for the exact same information can arise. This leads to duplication of efforts and lots of dollars being spent on infrastructure.

As a result of this, the Federal Aviation Administration implemented SWIM. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identified a need to reduce the high degree of interdependence among systems and move away from the proliferation of unique, point-to-point application interfaces.

5. Borderless Communications

As infrastructure becomes more centralized, the ability to share information across borders becomes more available, especially with the aid of scalable technologies like cloud computing and data security. By implementing these technologies with SWIM, data can safely be accessed abroad more easily, opening lines of communication that didn’t exist before.

6. Implementing Cloud Computing and Other Leading Technologies

Speaking of technology, did you know that cloud computing is more readily available and scalable than ever? Cisco argues that global cloud traffic will hit 14 zettabytes (ZB) by 2020 in their latest study. Information is becoming easier and easier to access and the barriers to entry are getting lower and lower. Information is becoming standardized.

Because the cloud is so accessible and safe thanks to ISO standards, it is a great repository for aviation information. Instead of needing a robust system to get access to this data, all that is needed is an internet connection!

7. Better Governance for Better Standards 

Governance, the process of governing, especially in the case of data, is crucial when it comes to sharing across audiences like airlines, ANSPs and airports. Without standardization and governance of data, information would come in multiple formats and be difficult to handle depending on the need.

With the need for data governance comes the need for governing bodies. Thanks to this, groups like the International Airline Transportation Association and the International Civil Aviation Organization have begun putting together workshops, working panels, and more to ensure that data, as much as possible, is being shared in similar formats. This creates an incubator for innovation in aviation and helps more organizations work with more advanced air traffic management concepts like predictive weather and more advanced flight tracking.