Industry standards | SITA


With our unique position at the heart of the air transport community, SITA advances community interests and addresses the needs of the community as a whole. This includes working closely with associations across the world to define industry standards.


Here are a just a few examples of SITA's contribution to industry standards


CUSS kiosks

Common-use self-service (CUSS) kiosks offer convenient passenger check-in while allowing multiple airlines to share kiosks. The result is lower costs without sacrificing branding or functionality. CUSS kiosks also alleviate congestion and improve passenger flow, since they can be located throughout the airport.  We have played a pivotal role in writing the CUSS standard and deploying common-use kiosks industry-wide.


SITA took the technical lead on the development of the common-use passenger processing (CUPPS) technology working in collaboration with other key industry players. CUPPS is an official IATA, Air Transport Association and Airports Council International sanctioned process and is the first time that all three organizations have come together to mandate the development of a new standard for the industry.

Baggage solutions

We participate in the IATA Baggage Working Group, which was established by the Airport Services Committee (ASC),  to review and develop recommendations for practices or resolutions to industry requirements.

The work includes the radio frequency identification (RFID) initiative, embedding a silicon chip into a tag,  which emits a radio signal that can be read at a distance without seeing the item. This will greatly simplify airline logistics management, but currently the results are most notable in the baggage area.

We were involved in the definition and evolution of RFID standards for baggage tags as part of our work on the IATA Baggage Message Working Group and RFID sub-committee. SITA also gave the RFID initiative real-world experience through its implementation at Hong Kong International Airport.

Passenger (IATA Joint Passenger Services Conference)

We are an active participant in a number of passenger committees and related groups, representing the view of a systems provider and the interests of our customers in the areas of:

  • Reservations
  • Ticketing and EMD
  • Departure control
  • Fares and tariffs
  • Load control
  • Data distribution
  • Schedules
  • Baggage messaging
  • Location identification

Type X

Type X defines a new generation of air transport industry (ATI) messaging technology being adopted by the IATA Passenger & Airport Data Interchange Standards (PADIS) Board. It’s based on SITA input using a model originally conceived with ARINC.

The Type X standard uses eXtensible Markup Language (XML) encoding to transport data of any format and size while ensuring compliance with air transport business practices. Type X decoupled architecture facilitates its deployment in a standalone platform or over an enterprise service bus (ESB).

Type X Messaging uses the same addressing structure as Type B, which makes bridging simple between the two technologies. The IATA Type X Work Group is formalizing guidelines for Type X implementation and conversions to Type B.

As an Internet protocol (IP) oriented technology, XML offers the following advantages:

  • Supports richer message content
  • Widely embraced as a global standard
  • Simple and easy to use for non-experts
  • Provides for the flexible extraction of data using off-the-shelf tools
  • XML development is facilitated by a large number of relatively inexpensive tools

Data definition & security

We play a prominent role in the IATA Passenger & Airport Data Interchange Standards (PADIS) work groups, which address data definition (DDX) as well as communication and data security standards (CSCC). Work includes the group's Application Messaging Guide and Message Security Guide, along with a communication reference model.

Spec 2000

Spec 2000 is an industry standard used by most of the world’s airlines and aviation suppliers when ordering spare aircraft parts. Since its inception in the late 1980s, SITA has been supporting the Air Transport Association (ATA) standard by routing orders over its secure Type B network. A majority of the world's largest airlines use Spec 2000 for defining mission-critical operational processes.

Air traffic control

We play a leading role in developing standards for the air traffic control (ATC) sector, especially in the use of data links to aircraft, complementing voice radio communications and providing the foundation for new generation air-traffic management.

In 1990, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) launched the Very High Frequency Digital Link (VHF VDL) standardization. The European Union Commission Single European Sky program will be adopting the mandate for the use of VHF VDL standardization by all short-haul aircraft by 2015.

Eurocontrol’s Link 2000+ project led to the introduction of Controller Pilot Data Link Communications and has connected their Maastricht centre system to the SITA network of VDL ground stations to communicate with SITA customer aircraft.

Controller Pilot Data Link Communications in the dense airspace of Europe and the United States highlights the need of the new VHF VDL system. Air traffic control currently only delivers airport departure clearances with the lower capacity VHF ACARS system.

We contributed to VDL protocol design in the ICAO standard to make it provide the maximum data capacity possible in a shared narrow VHF radio channel with the 200 nautical-mile range needed for aircraft communications.

SITA supports the implementation of VDL ground stations around the world to modernize ATC systems and allow controllers to handle aircraft more safely.

Aircraft operations related messages

We participate in ICAO’s initiatives to address interconnections with civil aviation authorities (CAAs) and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) for the exchange of aircraft operations related messages between airlines and ANSPs. The work includes technical standards and SITA interconnection architecture, along with SITA developments to implement them.


Standards in the government and border agency / customs sectors include:

  • PAXLST and PNRGOV messages under IATA Passenger and Airport Data Interchange Standards (PADIS)
  • APIS, PNR Implementation Guidelines issued by IATA, ICAO and WCO
  • Leading the way for iAPI industry standards through the provision of APP
  • ABC Implementation Guide, by IATA
  • ABC Operational and Technical Guidelines, by Frontex
  • Smart Security by IATA

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