The Standard Schedules Information Manual (SSIM) is published bi-annually by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It's a full-size softcover book of about 450 pages describing detailed standards for the data interchange of flight schedules between airlines.

Rationale

Shuttling passengers and cargo around in airplanes is a huge industry worldwide, and one that has extensive data communication needs. These days, no airline is an island: To successfully do business in this age of globalization, an airline must communicate with:

To facilitate the exchange of flight schedules and other data between interested parties, the Schedules Information Standards Committee (SISC) meets regularly to establish standards for the interchange of such data. These standards are documented in the SSIM.

Contents

I excerpt the SSIM's Table of Contents here, with my own abbreviations for the chapter descriptions given in the book. Where interesting and meaningful, I have included small examples of the material covered in the chapters, especially the many Appendices.

Chapter 1: Definitions

Those elements of the airline industry's jargon used in the rest of the SSIM are defined here.

Example:

'DOMESTIC FLIGHT LEG' - A flight between two stations to which the same ISO country code applies.

Chapter 2: Information Required for Standard Schedules

The syntactic elements of a schedule are presented here and defined in alphabetical order.

Chapter 3: Standard Print Layouts for Schedules Information

Example layouts for printed presentation of a schedule.

Chapter 4: Standard Schedules Message Procedure

A detailed description of the format for a flight schedule updated transmitted as a telegraph message.

Chapter 5: Ad Hoc Schedules Message Procedure

An extension to Chapter 4 dealing with so-called "ad hoc", or "occasional" messages often used to make selective, irregular, often last minute changes to one or more flights for a single day of operation.

Chapter 6: Airport Clearance/Advice Procedure

Used where necessary to obtain clearance or to advise of arrival/departure times.

Chapter 7: Presentation and Transfer of a Schedule Data Set

Formats and procedures for the bulk transfer of entire schedules between computer systems.

Chapter 8: EDIFACT Procedures

The rules and structures for formatting schedule updates or entire schedules in EDIFACT format.

Chapter 9: Leg Schedule Message Procedure

A description of the Leg Schedule Message: A simple, leg oriented message intended maily for use in advising schedule information to ATC authorities and Handling Agents.

Appendix A - ATA/IATA Aircraft Types

3-character codes for every aircraft type in current use.

Example:

Boeing 747 Mixed Configuration: 74M

Appendix B - Meal Service Codes

One-letter codes representing one kind of meal served aboard a flight.

Example:

S - Snack or Brunch

Appendix C - Service Types

One-letter codes representing the type of flight service for a given flight.

Example:

J - Scheduled, Passenger, Normal Service

Appendix D - Passenger Terminals

Coding of Passenger Terminals at airports having more than one terminal.

Appendix E - Recipients of SSIM

A list of the names, titles and addresses of all recipients of the Manual. Broken down into airline recipients, non-airline recipients, IATA offices, other IATA groups in liaison with the SISC. The list also mentions non-Members and IATA members who attend IATA Schedules Conferences.

Appendix F - UTC - Local Time Comparisons and ISO 2-Letter Country Codes

The time differences of all countries, or more correctly, all time zones in the world, from UTC are given here.
UTC, or Universal Time Constant, is what used to be known as GMT, or Greenwich Mean Time.

Appendix G - Traffic Restriction Codes Table

Codes describing restrictions on the types of operations of some flight legs.

Example:

O - INTERNATIONAL CONNECTING TRAFFIC ONLY
Carriage is limited to international online connecting traffic only; traffic may be carried if all conditions are satisfied.

Appendix H - Explanatory Notes on SSIM Application

Useful information on how to deal with a number of subjects

Appendix I - Region Codes

Appendix J - Intentionally left blank

Appendix K - Standard Clearance/Advice Form

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Notes

  1. If you found the Table of Contents tedious to read through, imagine what it's like working with the actual book and its contents! I'm afraid this reflects a bit on the stuffiness of style typical of committee products.
  2. I hear rumors that the SISC is thinking about creating an XML schema (or DTD) and associated rules for presenting flight schedule data. I'm happy to hear this, as I find EDIFACT a PITA to work with, and EDIFACT software is rare and expensive. Hooray for open standards supported by Open Source Software!
    Hrrumph. Pardon me for going off on that tangent.

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