Eurocontrol needed an electronic equivalent of the long-established paper standard for Aeronautical Information Publications (AIPs). The aim was to create online and paper documents from a single source while making the content available in a neutral format so that it can be re-used by clients.
The Eurocontrol Agency was founded to oversee air traffic control in member states. Its most important goal today is to develop a coherent and coordinated air traffic control system in Europe. All countries (states) involved in international flights must provide aeronautical information in a standard format, defined by the ICAO in Annex 15, Aeronautical Information Services. Different interpretations of the standard can impede information sharing, so, the Agency manages the "EAD Programme", which compiles a database of quality assured aeronautical information.
This requirement presented an opportunity to use new technology to implement a long-established, internationally controlled specification in an electronic format. Our combination of expertise in XML and experience in producing documents to aviation specifications was ideal for this complex analysis and implementation project.
Our analysis suggested an XML DTD as the basis for an electronic publication to meet the Annex 15 requirements. To demonstrate compliance, once we had developed the DTD, we created a test document using all the structural elements in it. The need to display the document (AIP) on screen and print it on paper meant we had to develop two style sheets. One enables Microsoft Internet Explorer to display the XML document and the other is used in generating PDF files. The last stage of the project was to create the electronic AIP.
- Production and distribution of documents AIPs is faster, offering significant savings on regular updates.
- Information is of better quality, as a DTD ensures more rigid compliance than individual interpretations of a paper standard.
- Future maintainability of documentation is assured through the hardware and software independence of XML.
- The project offers a standard for international electronic exchange of aeronautical information publications.
- Users of the AIP have access to a live document that can be customised according to their individual needs