||Segment 1 Approach
Because SWIM is an information sharing concept it is often perceived as more abstract when compared to something more concrete in the information technology (IT) world, such as a discrete IT system. SWIM involves multiple stakeholders, and the standards it is implementing will touch many IT projects at the FAA. For these reasons, we would like to provide some clarification on the differences between SWIM and other programs.
SWIM is not a set of avionics equipment, a substitute for National Airspace System (NAS) modernization programs, or an Federal Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) replacement. SWIM is a technology enabler that provides the IT infrastructure necessary for NAS systems to share information, increase interoperability, and encourage reusability of information and services. It provides a means for a system to obtain needed information from another system. In the past, all interfaces were developed on a case by case basis as unique point to point interfaces. The fact that different computer systems were developed using different technologies at different times rendered information sharing difficult. SWIM does away with building unique interfaces, and instead applies common IT industry standards and commercial software products across interfaces so that once a standard interface is developed and deemed SWIM-compliant, there will not be a need to redevelop it for every subsequent user who wants that information.
SWIM is not Data Communications
While SWIM and Data Comm will both enhance information sharing, they are separate projects. Data Comm, also one of the NextGen programs, is the transition from the current analog voice system to an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) compliant system that uses digital communication as the alternate (and eventually predominant) mode of communications to voice. Data Comm will enable two-way digital data exchange between pilots and controllers for safety-of-flight air traffic control (ATC) clearances, instructions, traffic flow management, and flight crew requests. Data Comm will also encompass the infrastructure and automation enhancements necessary for ATC message generation, routing, and transmission. Additionally, Data Comm will improve the efficiency of the NAS by enabling the automation of repetitive and time intensive tasks such as transfer of communications.
SWIM is not ADS-B
ADS-B, a Next Gen initiative, is redefining communications, navigation, and surveillance. Utilizing GPS satellite signals, ADS-B allows pilots and air traffic controllers to "see" and control aircraft with more precision. Aircraft transponders receive GPS signals and use them to determine the aircrafts precise position in the sky, which is combined with other data and broadcast out to other aircraft and air traffic control facilities. Pilots and controllers will see radar-like displays that update in real time and don't degrade with distance or terrain. It will give pilots access to weather services, terrain maps and flight information services. ADS-B will improve pilots situational awareness, allowing them to fly at safe distances from one another with less assistance from controllers.
SWIM is not FTI
SWIM and FTI are often mistakenly interchanged because they are both described as infrastructure. However, FTI functions as a gateway providing the communications backbone for all FAA programs included in SWIM Segment 1 and, as such, is a key contributing system to NextGen. It provides network-level connectivity and security in the form of secure communications between NAS operational systems and external users.
SWIM is not NNEW
A majority of NAS delays are attributed to weather every year. SWIM and NNEW both deal with advisory data (i.e., weather data), but are distinct initiatives within NextGen. NNEW will coordinate weather information within the aviation community and reduce weather related delays. NNEW will serve as the core of the NextGen weather support services. NNEW will allow a user a single source to go to in order to access all the weather information related to a geographic place. NNEW will be designed to be SWIM-compliant and will be updated as needed in real-time. These services will, in turn, be integrated into other key components of NextGen required to enable better air transportation decision-making.