Information Management

 - December 30, 2008, 5:32 AM

One of the first steps in developing the technology to automate the National Airspace System (NAS) is to coordinate and manage the data that is necessary for the technology to work properly. The system-wide information management (Swim) platform will allow all of the NextGen systems to “speak” to one another, as well as to other systems within other government agencies and industry partners, according to the FAA. “The safe and efficient use of airspace depends on how well the different parts of the airspace system communicate with each other,” the agency explained.
The Swim platform will eventually allow users to access information from different sources–such as radar and weather sensor data from the integrated terminal weather system (ITWS) and traffic management data from the TMA and ERAM systems–on the same network. Today that would be impossible because weather information and traffic management information are on completely different systems. The sharing of this information is vital, however, if the automated systems of the future are going to pass information back and forth.

The first stage of Swim development, defining the necessary equipment requirements, begins this year and will run through 2013. The second stage will focus on data exchange and will begin in 2011.

A component of Swim is the NextGen network enabled weather (NNEW) program, which– much like Swim–will coordinate weather information within the aviation community. “Weather information is still fragmented inside the FAA and the National Weather Service,” the FAA’s Steve Bradford explained. “So we’re slowly developing a single-purpose, single-location program and allowing other people to share that information.”

With NNEW, aviation users will be able to access weather information from various sources, including the FAA, the National Weather Service (NWS), DOD and industry partners, using a single portal or system. The data might include radar and sensor data via ITWS, data from the various numerical prediction forecasting models or data from systems such as the corridor integrated weather system (CIWS), which provides en route weather and two-hour convective weather forecasts, including precipitation and echo tops.

“You have all this information, but to get it you have to know there’s a system that has the information; you have to go to the system and you have to ask for the information,” Bradford explained. “NNEW is just like Swim except the difference is that I will have a place where I can go and access all the weather information related to a geographic place. If I need all the weather involving Chicago between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., NNEW will go and find it for me and deliver that weather information.”

NNEW development is currently in the “concepts requirements definition phase,” Bradford said, adding that the FAA and its partners are “developing the requirements and doing some prototyping.” Partners include the NWS, the DOT, NCAR and MIT Lincoln Labs.

“You can’t build this kind of system without having a large cross section of the community all working together,” Carmichael said, adding that the initial operating system is scheduled to be deployed by 2013.