I have seen in many ICAO regional offices workshops talking about AIXM interoperability tests, not much background is given on what they want to accomplish. The secretariat paper referenced at the end of this post makes certain claims in paragraph 2.2 and 2.3 which in essence say there is no compatibility but there it doesn’t say what tests were made and under what scenarios. It also talks about compatibility checks between versions that AIM staff will most likely not have the knowledge at technical level to perform.

So what is the goal of AIXM tests at this point? If you receive information from another country at this moment what is your use case? Does it matter if you receive AIXM 4.5, AIXM 5.0, AIXM 5.1, AIXM5.1.1? I am sure many countries have still no use case for receiving external data as they can’t still cope with their internal issues

In the Latin American case many countries don’t even have a fully functional eAIP but we are talking about making exchange of AIXM data? In other countries you see eAIP made several years ago with no updates so making an educated guess they bought a system including data migration from vendor and now maintenance and support ended and they never learned how to update it

Unless you are building a datawarehouse I see little use cases at AIM level, at most you will need a few boundary points, routes and airspaces.

So when AIM regional offices talk about AIXM interoperability tests what is the expected result? Most likely you will not upload in you AIXM system data from other ANSP (external), you will not receive AIXM data throught AMHS (not talking about digital NOTAMs yet) so what will you test?

Sometimes I don’t know what are the intentions of regional offices but for sure if I export AIXM data what will you do with it?

Let’s make some discussion around this, I want to see your comments on this topic and maybe together we can have a clearer idea, but honestly at this point I would be more engaged on having a functional eAIP and producing datasets than doing these types of things as many countries are still not even in the implementation phase to even bother.

background paper from AIM/TF3 from ICAO NACC

Updated March 20th, 2020


Henry Benjamin Caceres · March 6, 2020 at 12:22 am

Interesting post and also the white paper presented by ICAO.
Being ignorant of what was discussed in the meeting, to me it seems that there is a confusion in regards to the different levels of interoperability. I can distinguish the following levels of interoperability:
– among AIXM versions
– among XM exchange models
– among national AIXM implementation systems

The first two are out of the scope of a typical AIM unit in an ANSP, while the last one means an effort to test and confirm if state A can exchange data with state B. The reason for this data exchange is for same reason that AIP and NOTAM are exchanged with the neighbors but with digital data instead of paper.

In my opinion, this step of data exchange among countries is important in the future SWIM context, but ordinarily not needed for the current elaboration of the typical AIS products like the AIP.

In the EAD this data exchange among countries is a reality since 2003, but we are talking about a centralized database for many states under the umbrella of Eurocontrol and the European union, such a level of integration of states is a big challenge for any other region in order to cope with an AIXM data exchange interoperability.

    antoniolocandro · March 6, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Thanks for your comments, I think the fact that different versions of AIXM including ones with extensions need to co-exist makes these tests a mute point, you won’t be able to force your neighbour especially when upgrades or modifications require money. I will do a follow up blog post on my take about that the important part is to have digital data. At the moment is too early to talk about exchanges in many countries anyway

Chris · March 6, 2020 at 4:38 am

Keeping it simple…The end game is the ability to exchange XML data among states and operators such as Procedures..that meet quality requirements..

    antoniolocandro · March 6, 2020 at 8:48 am

    Yes this is the end game but at this point what are you able to do with any data you get? Will you input into your own system and keep updated? Is your system capable of such thing and your staff or will it be a waste of time and resources better spent on your own implementation? I will write my follow up blog with my personal view after a few more days of comments here if any

      Dennis Mejía · March 6, 2020 at 7:23 pm

      As you say: “what are you able to do with any data you get?” At this point…not much. So better focus your resources in urgent matters, and most countries still need to solve basic stuff.

        antoniolocandro · March 6, 2020 at 8:11 pm

        At the NACC level for sure many countries do not have even basic eAIP & AIXM; what are you going to do with an AIXM dump from Mexico or USA or any other country at this point in time? I remember 10 years and used very few times the AIP publication from neighbouring FIRs

        Anyway follow up blog will contain more on my thoughts. Preview unless you are doing a regional DB for some specific reason then be happy with datasets if at all

Grace Sangawe · March 9, 2020 at 12:36 pm

I do understand that AIXM has all capabilities of exchange data and integrate with other AIM systems eg. AIXM, ATM systems etc

    Grace Sangawe · March 9, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    So it is not clear which AIXM interoperability they mean

    antoniolocandro · March 9, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    In theory yes, but how and why will you integrate in your system is the question.

Jan-Philipp Lauer · March 20, 2020 at 2:17 pm

Dear Antonio,

I read your post with great interest and it is wonderful that this discussion is taking place. Having said that, I want to point out some issues that I disagree with. Let us first look at some established facts: ICAO currently has 193 Member States, AIS data are used in a wealth of applications and by a wealth of stakeholders, most end-user systems do not use AIS data directly but need to be supplied by commercial data providers such as Lufthansa Systems, Jeppesen and NAVBLUE. As you correctly point out, there is virtually no interoperability today when it comes to different AIXM implementations even using exactly the same AIXM version, e.g. 5.1.

ICAO is correct in pointing out the lack of AIXM interoperability as a severe problem. For example, Germany is unable to exchange AIXM data with its neighbor Austria due to different AIXM dialects used by each country’s AIXM implementation. Interestingly, both countries use AIS software made by the same supplier.

Trajectory-based air traffic management systems have a traffic horizon, which extends far beyond Germany’s national borders. When these systems were introduced several years ago, Germany had an urgent need to ingest AIS data from its neighboring countries. Due to the lack of AIXM interoperability, these data need to be manually captured from each neighboring state’s AIP.

End-user systems such as flight management systems are supplied with AIS data through commercial data providers. Before an instrument flight procedure reaches its intended user (normally the pilot), the procedure will have been created and manually re-created in different systems three(!) times. I would like to point out the discussions that took place on data quality with regards to Performance Based Navigation (PBN) or as Jeppesen liked to call it “the dark side of PBN”. Manually processing information comes with great risks of corrupting data. This issue is no longer part of our discussions, presumably since PBN has been deployed and we still have not found a way to seamlessly exchange digital data.

Aside from the inherent quality risk, the high level of effort required to process aeronautical data introduces significant additional costs into the data chain, is the cause of long data processing delays and precludes safe further automation.

Imagine our industry continuing to publish national aeronautical information in a variety of AIXM dialects, which are all mutually incompatible. The commercial data providers and other stakeholders will be unwilling to create at least 193 different import routines and interfaces to accommodate every ICAO Member States. Maintaining so many interfaces would not only be costly, but also introduce significant room for error due to a lack of extensive validation. This lack of AIXM interoperability also precludes efficient processes for the harmonization of data near national borders, which is a requirement for a globally seamless aeronautical data set.

If AIS does not provide such a globally harmonized, digital data set, significant risks exist in system-to-system interactions since there is no guarantee that every participating system uses the same data, e.g. data link clearances in a ground-based / airborne scenario or to issue taxi clearances via data link.

We are way overdue in fixing these interoperability issues since many stakeholders heavily invested in AIXM systems only to realize after the implementation that data exchanges are not possible. This should have been fixed years ago to allow all stakeholders to reap the benefits of digital data.

Digital NOTAM is another, highly critical use case for a globally harmonized digital data set. Without fully interoperable AIXM data, Digital NOTAM as well as many other applications relying on harmonized data such A-SMGCS routing functionalities, will remain pipe dreams. The very essence of digital data is that they are seamlessly exchangeable and scale extremely well as to enable massive economies of scale and do not require any further modifications to be processed in support of various use cases. Unless we rethink our approach to AIXM data, we will severely limit further automation potentials and negate the benefits of a digitized AIM service. There are many examples on how to do this properly moving forward, but this would be another article.

Please fully support the effort to make AIXM interoperable for the benefit of all aviation stakeholders.

Thanks you,

    antoniolocandro · April 2, 2020 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks for the time to comment, this is the idea to raise the exchange of information. Just to be clear it isn’t ICAO raising the problem of interoperability it has been raised several times during IFAIMA conferences and let known to ICAO officials attending there even industry agrees.

    I have a view of Digital NOTAM where an easier transition thing could have been done, maybe I will take some of the quarantine time to develop this view.

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