CIRM’s proposed PAS on Route Exchange (RTZ) approved

IEC Technical Committee 80 (TC 80) has recently approved CIRM’s proposed Publicly Available Specification (PAS) on Route plan exchange format (RTZ) for publication as an official IEC PAS.

Route plan exchange is based on standardising a route plan so that route plans may be shared between different systems on the ship and between the ship and shore. The original RTZ format is specified in ECDIS standard IEC 61174:2015.

A PAS is a technical specification published in response to an urgent market need, and it represents a consensus in an organisation and/or working group. The objective of a PAS is to speed up standardisation in areas of rapidly evolving technology

CIRM drafted the PAS to address numerous issues that have been uncovered in the original RTZ format, in recognition that some manufacturers have a pressing business need to implement an improved version of the RTZ format. The work was initiated in 2018 and was carried out by the CIRM ECDIS Working Group, comprising representatives from ECDIS manufacturers, service providers and data producers.

The CIRM PAS updates the original RTZ XML schema version 1.0 to revised version 1.2, which incorporates schema version 1.1 that was developed, implemented and tested by participants in the STM project. CIRM has also developed a comprehensive set of test route files based on RTZ v1.2, in order to assist implementers when conducting testing. The revised schema version and test dataset are available from the CIRM website: http://cirm.org/rtz/

Because the PAS is not part of an international standard, its publication will not result in any mandatory new requirements for equipment manufacturers or shipping companies. Rather, manufacturers that have identified a business need to support an improved version of the original route plan exchange format can implement the PAS in their equipment, in the knowledge that the PAS has been carefully developed by CIRM.

As the PAS makes support for both RTZ v1.0 and v1.2 mandatory, future compatibility is preserved between systems that have implemented the PAS and those that have not.

Implementation of the PAS will require a software upgrade to be performed on the equipment in service. It is assumed that the equipment’s existing hardware will be sufficient to facilitate the software upgrade.

Regarding the impact on the user, by using equipment that has implemented the PAS, mariners will be able to have confidence that routes created on ECDIS from different manufacturers can be exchanged successfully and without loss of data. The routes will be able to be exchanged between ECDIS from different manufacturers and between ECDIS and other equipment, both on ship and on shore. The current level of interoperability between existing ECDIS in the field and updated ECDIS supporting the RTZ 1.2 format will be preserved.