Skyguide’s Enterprise Architecture: Shaping air navigation’s future


Skyguide’s Enterprise Architecture: Shaping air navigation’s future

Skyguide leads in enterprise architecture in the air navigation services industry because of our ability to model air traffic management processes and their supporting systems. This gives us full visibility of our air traffic control operations and their many dependencies. We can now transform our processes and systems while maintaining resilience to support safe operations in the Swiss air space.

Marc Epalza, Head of Enterprise Architecture, Skyguide

Country: Switzerland
Industry: Aviation
Company size:  >1,500
Revenue: USD 523 million


  • Manage increasing complexity with quality modeling
  • Onboarding reduced from 12 to 2 months
  • Document the current state and establish a transition plan for achieving the target state while supporting compliance
  • Enhancing operational and cyber resilience
  • Improved collaboration enhances synergy between departments

Skyguide, Switzerland’s air navigation service provider, guides flights through Europe’s most complex airspace. The company is fully owned by the Swiss Confederation and headquartered in Geneva.

The company’s 1,500 employees are committed to boosting the environmental performance of air traffic management with efficient flight procedures and investments in traffic operations, infrastructure, and staff engagement. Employees are responsible for 3,200 civil and military aircraft movements every day.

Skyguide pioneers enterprise architecture in the European air navigation services industry. Their team of 5 enterprise and 12 solution architects have developed an enterprise architecture model for air traffic management processes and the applications and infrastructure supporting it.

The challenge – Why Skyguide wants to get visibility of air traffic management processes

The aviation industry faces stringent regulations to ensure safe and efficient air transportation. Consequently, providing safe and sustainable Air Traffic Management for both civilian and Military Airspace Users is why Skyguide exists.

Their enterprise architecture journey began with the compliance team’s efforts to model their systems architecture to align with regulatory frameworks using a business process management tool. However, it became apparent that while the tool was apt for compliance tasks, it was less effective for architectural demands.

Skyguide’s enterprise architecture team needs to do advanced modeling to meet the aviation industry’s stringent regulations. They, therefore, wanted to use a robust enterprise architecture tool for modeling and impact analyses to ensure the success of new initiatives from regulatory changes and strategic decisions.

The enterprise architecture team was introduced to Bizzdesign Horizzon during an ArchiMate training session by the Bizzdesign Academy. They subsequently invested in Bizzdesign Horizzon because of the enterprise architecture tool’s ability to ensure the consistency and repeatability of model structures allowing for effective impact analyses. The choice of Bizzdesign was also influenced by the tool’s capability to facilitate strategic implementation and provide insights into current and future state architecture design.

The solution – How Skyguide ensures the safety and efficiency of Swiss air traffic control

In Switzerland, Skyguide historically operated as two distinct entities: one based in Zurich overseeing the east and the other in Geneva for the west, each with control zones, systems, and data centers. About a decade ago, they shifted strategy and started the journey to create a unified virtual center, integrating technology across both locations to enable air traffic controllers to manage the entire Swiss airspace from either site.

Previously, air traffic control systems also operated in technology silos for radio, phone, radar, and data processing, among others. The need for increased performance led to the integration of these silos, which increased complexity and necessitated effective management.

Skyguide’s enterprise architecture team adopted Bizzdesign Horizzon as the core ‘information backbone’ to streamline and enhance other fields into a single model. This model facilitates integrating and expanding various elements, such as requirements and safety and supports future state design for informed decision-making.

Bizzdesign Horizzon now supports the company in gaining a holistic and realistic perspective of its air traffic control operations, enabling the identification of any gaps. It
is a comprehensive information resource for Skyguide and is progressively used by engineers and maintenance teams who previously used Microsoft Visio schematics.

To ensure the safe evolution of always-on air traffic control systems, Skyguide uses Bizzdesign’s scripting functionality for top-down and bottom-up impact analyses. The tool helps identify system vulnerabilities, such as single points of failure, which is critical in an industry where quality and safety are directly linked.

Skyguide is required by regulation to maintain detailed records of system changes.

Transitioning from text documents to an integrated model management system has proven beneficial, offering a more effective and sustainable way to document, analyze, and manage changes.

Key benefits – The benefits of using Bizzdesign Horizzon to model air traffic processes

With Bizzdesign Horizzon, Skyguide has experienced the following benefits:

Manage increasing complexity with quality modeling 
Due to the depth of modeling required by Skyguide, using a tool that ensures effective modeling is essential. In a real-time comparison with the business process management tool the company initially used for compliance work, Bizzdesign Horizzon proved four to six times faster at modeling.

Onboarding reduced from 12 to two months  
Skyguide’s commitment to knowledge management has significantly reduced the onboarding period for new architects from an estimated 12 months to 2.

Document the current state and establish a transition plan for achieving the target state while supporting compliance 
Skyguide now has complete transparency and ‘traceability’ of their systems. They understand dependencies across processes, applications, and their technology infrastructure. This insight is crucial for streamlining compliance processes.

Enhancing operational and cyber resilience 
As regulations tighten, Skyguide’s focus on resilience becomes increasingly crucial. Skyguide uses EA to enhance operational and cyber resilience and comply with regulations in audits and investigations.

Improved collaboration enhances departmental synergy 
Skyguide has observed a marked improvement in collaboration, indicating stronger department ties. This evolution in knowledge sharing and transfer has led to more integrated and effective teamwork.