ATI, SITA look at BtoB messaging

ARINC Incorporated and SITA have announced the formation of an Industry technical
work group to define the next generation of business to business messaging for the
Air Transport Industry (ATI).The work group will formalize standards to complement
industry Type B messaging with a new approach using XML technology and Service
Oriented Architecture for communications. 

The work group membership has already grown to include Northwest Airlines, British
Airways, Worldspan, Amadeus, Lufthansa Systems, Sabre, Galileo and Mercator -
reflecting strong industry support for the initiative by both airlines and
application providers.

The ATI is one of the most highly integrated industries in the world, requiring
millions of messages per day for reservations, passenger processing, and general
operations - even the equivalent of “email” to airplanes. An estimated 40 million
Type B messages per day are processed by ARINC and SITA and delivered across vast
extranets to a wide variety of industry participants. Today the industry uses a
broad range of modern and legacy protocols - a heritage that dates back to teletype.
The move to define an XML based approach addresses the growing demand to enable
secure and robust communications using what has become the technology of choice for
modern applications.

Standardizing on an approach is particularly challenging in the ATI due to the
substantial population of legacy applications and the high levels of reliability and
security demanded for mission critical and highly automated operational
applications. The work group will address issues of backward compatibility for
legacy applications, interoperability, reliability, and security - all of which pose
unique challenges for the current XML based communications frameworks. The work
group will also grapple with competing frameworks such as Web Services and ebXML,
drawing from standards being guided by Internet standards groups such as W3C and
OASIS. By focusing on communications infrastructure for operational messaging, the
Type X work group will complement efforts in the industry underway through the Open
Travel Alliance (OTA) and IATA’s XML Task Force (XMLTF).

“We see a tremendous benefit to the industry of migrating to XML technology and
Internet based communications” said Ruth Hough, Vice President of ARINC Network
Solutions. “Adoption will lower the cost of business for the airlines and
application providers, and increase flexibility. Most airlines already use the
technology internally, so removing the legacy layer and using a framework like Web
Services for business to business communications is a natural next step.” 


“SITA and ARINC are in a unique position in the aviation industry to sustain support
of business critical communications through development of XML-based standards”,
stated Brijdeep Sahi, Vice President of Marketing for SITA SC. “As with past
technology transitions, industry specific standards and communications technology
expertise are needed to guide the industry through the complex transition to a
Service Oriented Architecture and take full advantage of the benefits of XML.”

The TypeX work group has rapidly moved to formalize industry messaging requirements
and is well into analyzing the competing frameworks against these requirements to
identify gaps.  By the end of second quarter 2006, the work group plans to have
established specifications and execute targeted live demonstration projects by the
end of next year.