What is SWIM?
System Wide Information Management (SWIM) is a global Air Traffic Management (ATM) industry initiative to harmonize the exchange of aeronautical, weather and flight information for airspace users like airlines, airports, and other stakeholders. Where implemented, SWIM is essential to providing the most efficient and safe use of airspace, managing air traffic around weather, and increasing common situational awareness on the ground. Through effective exchange of flight-related information, airspace users and controllers have access to the most current information that may be affecting their area of responsibility in real-time. SWIM helps improve decision-making and streamline information-sharing for improved planning and execution.
The benefits of SWIM to enable better and faster decisions through information sharing and enhanced situational awareness are unquestionable and overall SWIM implementations enable the ATM systems around the globe to accommodate the growing aviation demand enabling safe and efficient air travel.
However, airlines and other aviation stakeholders face challenges in their attempts to fully realize the power of SWIM due to;
- The increasing complexity of the data in terms of volume and breadth, with estimates of annual global aircraft data production reaching 98 million terabytes by the year 2026
- The difficulty in integrating legacy SWIM technologies which have been in existence for almost 20-years is challenging
- The costs in time and infrastructure necessary to ingest, normalize and model the data into a usable format.
Ultimately, understanding how SWIM fits into an organizations’ digital-transformation strategy is an important, foundational strategic element. Combining SWIM data into their business intelligence initiatives can bring a much needed 360-degree view of flights that benefits an airline’s operation, safety, forecasting, customer satisfaction and more.
At Cirium we are focused on making SWIM more accessible and easier to integrate into an airline or other aviation stakeholders’ digital initiatives. While real-time situational awareness is the primary benefit of SWIM, that data is packed with tremendous historical insights. Solutions such as Cirium Sky, a managed data warehouse for airlines, make SWIM more accessible and fuses that data with comprehensive schedule and related flight information such as flight status, fleet information, weather and more. With all this fully contextualized data available in near real-time and historically with modern interfaces, aviation stakeholders can better integrate SWIM throughout their organization.
SWIM in Action
Traffic Management Initiatives (TMIs) are one core components of SWIM and are programs that ATC may use to balance demand and capacity to ensure the safety and efficiency of a national airspace. These initiatives can take a few forms; ground stops, ground delays, airspace/airport closures – depending on the need and situation. Some TMIs are used to manage excess demand at a congested airport. Other TMIs are used to manage traffic issues in the enroute environment. While TMIs apply to the day of operation to make tactical decisions related to flights, a great deal can be learned from post-flight analysis to identify patterns which can aid in the creation of better plans/schedules or inform prediction models to drive more accurate ETA/ETDs and manage disruptions more proactively.
Here is a simple example of how Cirium Sky can deliver insights to Airline Operation Analysts on the impact of ground stops (a TMI in which aircraft that are instructed to remain on the ground at their origination airports due to a constraint at their destination airport) or Ground Delay Program (a TMI that delays aircraft at their departure airport to reconcile demand with capacity at their arrival airport). Flights are assigned departure times, which in turn regulate their arrival time at the impacted airport.
In our example, Lisa is a post-operations analyst for a major US airline. She is tasked with analyzing the impact of several TMIs in the US for the month of September 2021. Leveraging a simple dashboard, she created and powered by Cirium Sky, she can view the TMIs issued across the US for the month representing 18 ground delays and ground stops, directly impacting 1,060 flights across 74 operating carriers – resulting in 37,794 delay minutes.
Lisa notices TMI activity issued for Las Vegas (McCarran International Airport) and wants to analyze what occurred. By clicking on LAS she can see that during this period there were two TMI issues for WIND conditions impacting a total of 304 flights across 31 operating carriers resulting in 10,262 minutes of total delay with an average delay of 48.18 minutes per impacted flight.
Further, by leveraging the available SWIM data via Cirium Sky, Lisa identifies affected routes, a breakdown of the flights impacted by operating airline, delay minutes by airline and a breakdown of disruption type.
Additionally, she can visualize the disruption impact direction (arrival or departures) and disruption outcomes for the impacted flights including cancellations or diversions.
Finally, Lisa can drill down into flight detail. She notices that 16 impacted flights resulted in diversions and can easily see the detail of those 16 flights.
The results of her analysis can inform the airline’s planning and operations efforts and prepare teams to better handle similar situations in the future.
As you can see from this single use-case, it becomes clear how SWIM data combined with schedule, flight, and fleet data fits into an airline’s digital transformation strategy. SWIM data provides important contextual data that helps analysts fully understand where and when TMIs are likely to happen, how they impact operations, and helps to improve their ability to anticipate and adapt to them.
SWIM provides much more information and insights beyond TMIs, with data spanning air traffic flow management, clearance times, taxi-times, runway utilization and more can provide an organization the ability to drive more efficiency, maximize utilization, create more resilient flight schedules to minimize the impact of disruptions while delivering high on-time performance.
Cirium is committed to help the aviation industry achieve its digital transformation goals. Please contact one our representatives to discuss how Cirium can facilitate your digital transformation.