Snowflake Enables AIM Data Exchange for XMAN Heathrow Trial

25 April 2014

Snowflake Software, specialists in AIM data exchange via open standards, have enabled the cross border exchange of AIM data between adjacent control centres as part of the cross border arrivals management – or XMAN project – led by NATS and in close cooperation with French air traffic control provider, DSNA, the Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre, Prestwick Control Centre, and the Shannon Control Centre and Irish Aviation Authority.

The team from Snowflake implemented its GO Publisher data exchange technology into the NATS operational environment, enabling the use of open standards to exchange arrival sequence data much earlier to adjacent control centres. In doing so, the XMAN trial hopes to demonstrate that operational decisions could be made earlier, slowing aircraft en-route and therefore limiting the amount of time spent in stack holding on arrival. The ultimate aim of the XMAN trial is to reduce average holding times at Heathrow by at least a quarter from the current time of just under 8 minutes. 

Snowflake’s implementation of GO Publisher for XMAN enables the publication of arrival sequence and temporal information to the adjacent control centres via configurable schema adaptive web services. By decoupling the arrival management implementation from the data exchange service, Snowflake and NATS have been able to realise a key goal of System Wide Information Management (SWIM) to store data once and reuse many times. 

“The engineering behind XMAN supports a Service Oriented Architecture (SoA) which has tangible benefits in terms of cost, development time and potential for new services. Snowflake’s software has been deployed in a virtual machine (VM) environment which offers some exciting advantages over dedicated machines. Snowflake and NATS Engineering teams have developed a strong working relationship since the SWIM Masterclass 2013 which has made it possible to overcome the significant challenges of introducing this technology into the operational environment for the first time.” commented David Tomlin, NATS System Engineering Manager. 

“Bringing NATS’ first SWIM service to operational trial across European airspace is an important step forward for the AIM industry and is a world first for cross border management. This is also a powerful demonstration of how quickly Snowflake Software’s technology can help legacy systems become good SWIM citizens, saving money for the airlines and having a positive effect on the environment.” commented Alexis Brooker, Professional Services Director at Snowflake Software. 

Slowing aircraft down earlier, during the en-route phase of flight, will result in fuel savings, a reduction in CO2 emissions, increases in safety, and provide overall benefits to airlines, ground staff, and passengers. Until now, the approach of an arriving aircraft could only be influenced once it entered UK airspace. With the XMAN Speed Reduction Horizon in place, adjacent air traffic controllers in the Netherlands, France, Scotland and Ireland will not only receive arrival sequence information much earlier but will now be able to slow down aircraft up to 350 miles away from London Heathrow to minimise arrival delays. The XMAN trial, which is a partnership between members of FABEC and the UK/Ireland FAB, began on April 1st and will run until the end of 2014.



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