IATA plays a leading role in coordinating efforts amongst aviation stakeholders to ensure that ATM standards are harmonized on a global basis.​Several regional ATM programs have been initiated and are being launched across the world. However, fundamental principles guiding such regional initiatives are not fully aligned and by extension, nor are the solutions.

There are a number of technical incompatibilities in selected technologies or aircraft equipage and performance requirements thus creating unsustainable business cases for airlines when considering investment decisions.​

Without the alignment of the investment plans of airlines, airports and ANSPs, operational benefits will remain elusive and any new ATM program will not deliver its promised objectives. As such, there is a critical need for interoperable air navigation systems that are developed and deployed based on tangible, cost-effective operational objectives to ensure that the needs of the aviation community are met.

Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBUs)

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has approved the Global Air Navigation Plan - Doc 9750​ (pdf) to serve as a worldwide policy establishing clear linkages between operational benefits and technological developments. The GANP brought the concept of the Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBUs) which serves as a benchmark for global ATM interoperability. The ASBUs designate sets of improvements that can be implemented globally from a defined point in time to enhance performance of ATM System.

Most Capable Best Served

An approach to introduce operational improvements is using the methodology of Most Capable Best Served, otherwise known as Service Priority. The Most Capable Best Served concept is an effective tool in managing the evolution towards new equipage levels. This concept rests on the following pillars:​

  • Collaborative Decision Making regarding Airspace Management and the required capabilities.
  • Equipage incentives, whether financial or operational or a combination thereof.
  • Regulator willingness and ability to certify advanced aircraft capabilities.
  • Equitable access to airspace, viewed on a longer time scale.

IATA is engaged in the discussions surrounding Trajectory Based Operations (TBO), Flight & Flow Information for a Collaborate Environment (FF-ICE) and System Wide Information Management (SWIM).  These are the future ATM operational concepts and technologies for accommodating future growth of traffic demands and new player in the airspace like UAS or Commercial space.  IATA sees the needs for operational environment changes assuring the benefit between all aviation stake holders. (Airline, ANSP, Airport, Other airspace users)

Trajectory Based Operations (TBO)

The TBO concept is an ATM concept where the flown flight path is as close as possible to the user-preferred flight path by reducing potential conflicts and resolving demand/capacity imbalances earlier and more efficiently. In such an environment, a four-dimensional (4D) flight trajectory, collaboratively developed, managed and shared, would serve as a common reference for decision-making across all stakeholders.  This concept would require the significant information exchanges including Flight planning /Trajectory management information, AIS information, and MET information to plan and manage trajectories.

Flight & Flow Information for a Collaborative Environment (FF-ICE)

FF-ICE defines information requirements for flight planning, flow management and trajectory management. FF-ICE will replace Current FPL format and AIDC. Flight information and associated trajectories are principal mechanisms by which ATM service delivery will meet operational requirements. FF-ICE will have global applicability and will support all members of the ATM community to achieve strategic, pre-tactical and tactical performance management. The exchange of flight/flow information will assist the construction of the best possible integrated picture of the past, present and future ATM situation to support Trajectory based operation.


System Wide Information Management (SWIM) concept, which will consist of standards, infrastructure, and governance rules that will support the increasing need for open and timely data exchange and is intended to replace the existing data exchange infrastructure.

The SWIM concept is envisioned to overcome current limitations in today’s operational environment. By facilitating the exchange of ATM information between known parties, SWIM will complement human-to-human exchange with machine-to-machine communication, while improving data distribution and accessibility via interoperable services.

SWIM concept will support the information exchanges (FF-ICE, MET, AIS etc.,) need of the TBO concept.

IATA Webinar Series - What will future operations look like?

IATA has held webinars to introduce the concepts from different angles for familiarization of these new concepts and technologies. The objective of the webinars aim to address:

  • How will the future flight plans affect airline operations and flight trajectories?” 
  • What will the benefits be?
  • What will the impact be?

Webinar 1

What is TBO, FF ICE, and SWIM?

View the presentation (pdf)

Webinar 2

Snapshot of future operations

View the presentation (pdf)

Q&A - Session 1

Q&A - Session 2

Webinar 3

Current regional activities - Americas, Europe and Africa

View the presentation (pdf)

Current regional activities - Asia Pacific and Middle East

View the presentation (pdf)