How to Make a Flying Start with S1000D – Lessons Learned at the Airport

Rob Walpole

Consulting Technical Lead
Flatirons Solutions


S1000D is a specification for tech pubs which has been broadly adopted in the aerospace industry. It provides XML schemas for common doc types and defines how these documents should be structured in a common source database. S1000D is replacing the ATA SGML format as the primary spec for OEM aircraft manuals and is used for new aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. At the same time, mobile devices are playing an increasing role in aircraft maintenance, allowing engineers to access technical information at the point of need.

Airlines are pressured to keep fares low but still maintain the highest safety standards. A single source for engineering content is one way to reduce overheads. It follows that other documents for engineers should also be S1000D to allow common tools for managing and rendering content.

This paper discusses implementing S1000D for a major UK airline’s engineering procedures. While OEM manuals cover much information needed by engineers, airlines still need their own procedures for topics like health and safety, planning and quality control. In fact, to cover all aspects of keeping aircraft functioning safely and comfortably for passengers.

S1000D can be daunting for the inexperienced though. The version 4.1 spec is over 3500 pages long and not an easy read. There is a shortage of S1000D information in the public domain, perhaps because it is still quite new, the majority of aircraft manuals are still in SGML and the industry is understandably cautious about change.

Of course, you could skip the spec and start creating some S1000D schema compliant XML, only referring to it when you hit a snag. This is a very bad idea. By this time, you will likely have created a number of problems for yourself which will be hard to unwind. This paper will explain some of the design decisions you need to make before going anywhere near a keyboard and hopefully save you from some of the pain that you will inevitably experience.

Table of Contents

Introduction to S1000D
What is S1000D?
Principal Concepts
Data Modules
Publication Modules
Common Source Database
Introduction to the Knowledge Warehouse Project
Migration Planning
Data Modules
The Data Module Code
Model Identification Code
System Difference Code
Standard Numbering System
Other Codes
Putting It All Together
Data Module Title
Publication Modules
The Publication Module Code
Model Identification Code
Issuing Authority
Publication Number
Volume Number
Putting It All Together
Publication Module Entry Title
Business Rules
Business Rule Decision Points
Business Rules Exchange (BREX)
Context Rules
Context Independent Rules
SNS Rules
Lessons Learned
Spreadsheet It!
Hearts and Minds
Appendix A

Unless otherwise stated, all mention of S1000D in this paper is specifically referring to issue 4.1 of the specification.