This year I was lucky enough to get approved to attend Global AIM at Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana. The last conference I attended what the one at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 where I gave a talk Towards AIXM & Electronic Chart Implementation (youtube video, slides). A lot has changed since I gave that talk including we have published 3 eAIP for 3 different countries (Belize, Honduras, El Salvador), we are helping migrate Guatemala and most likely provide at least OJT for Nicaragua and Costa Rica. (Did I mention we are a centralized database for Central American Member States to use? Check that in the slides)
My expectations on the conference where to see what where the new things my colleagues from around the world are working on, how are things progressing and what is the state of the art of AIM. Although progress has been made by many States many others I feel are not keeping up with this whole new AIXM and electronic thing. The conference would be the perfect spot from my perspective where we can get together and provide real world examples of this is what happened, this was the issue, this is how we tackled it, this worked, this didn’t work, etc.
So although I believe the organisation is superb! Location was fantastic and most of the talks had some sort of appeal to me I must say I left feeling that things since 2016 haven’t worked out so smoothly. Let me explain.
Interoperability was one of the key things in Rio, and I am sad to see that still in 2018 it is still the case. In fact being completely blunt things are not getting better nor worst, they seem stagnated. So we have all these vendors that proclaim sell AIXM5.1 and their systems comply with the rules but…AIXM 5.1 is so open/relax that many things are implemented slighlty differently. So we actually can’t assure interoperability! That is the No.1 no no for me and it seems the issue will remain.
AIXM is progressing fast (I’m part of the CCB, or at least try to participate), version 5.2 is on the works however the interoperability thing hasn’t been tackled enough, there are many issues being detected and tried to be solved (kudos for that), there are many things that the model didn’t have, etc. In a sense was it really unrealistic to model the complete world to a set of “rules” when most don’t comply 100% with ICAO SARPs? I mean even meanings or way of doing things between countries are different.
I may get in trouble for this one, but anyway here it goes. I felt ICAO didn’t like questions directed at them by people looking for answers directly from HQ on some hot topics. I mean things like why don’t say directly AIXM in ICAO documents, why ICAO hasn’t updated documents? Work on interoperability? On times it felt like being put on the spotlight on some of the key issues was a bit rough for them. But I must say one talk that I really enjoyed was from Peter Matern from Eurocontrol.
Probably one of the most heartfelt from the gut, no filters just saying what I think should be done and hasn’t. Quite powerful and I do admire the guy for going head to head and just letting it all out. Maybe the confidence of I believe 30+ years of experience or knowing he is a well respected figure from Eurocontrol or just he didn’t care on the opinion that he might not been political correct but he just told the truth without sugar coating.
I have to say I personally think ICAO works to slow in comparison with the actual AIXM movement of things, lack of staff, resources, will? I don’t know. You can see they dismantled the AIMSG, created something called IMP which seemed to overlap and now they have called some old members from AIMSG to start something new which is on the works. Maybe some food for thought is that data is driving things around in the world and in Aviation its the same thing, data handling will become such a relevant role I think it will outweigh in the future the actual roles of ATC (there I said it) or at least be on par. The future for AIM is bright we just need to keep pushing forward.
To end this I must say I really enjoyed some of the industry talks and being able to connect with them during the times we went to the exhibition hall, if you didn’t talk to these guys you missed out. Yes they have a business and want to sell, but if you actually took the time to get to know them they are really nice people, have very interesting things to share not only about current state of events in AIM but how things evolved, and many of them showed nice cool things they were working on. Where else can you try before you buy some AIM software? I haven’t seen trial downloads with 30 day expiration from any vendor yet (cough, cough! I want to try all your software and see the differences)
Lastly, Congrats to the team from Republica Dominican, un Abrazo! Excellent hosts and maybe we will see you at Global AIM 2019 Tunisia