How do aerospace organizations manage variants of documentation for different aircraft models using DITA?

Managing variants of documentation for different aircraft models is a complex but essential task for aerospace organizations. DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) provides a structured approach to handle this challenge efficiently. Here’s an overview of how aerospace organizations manage variants of documentation using DITA:

Modular Content

Aerospace organizations often create modular content in DITA. Each module represents a specific topic or section of documentation, such as maintenance procedures, specifications, or safety guidelines. These modules can be reused across different aircraft models. When a change is needed, it can be made in a single module, and the updates automatically propagate to all documents that use that module. This ensures consistency and simplifies maintenance.

Conditional Text

DITA allows for the use of conditional processing attributes, such as conref (conditional referent), conkeyref (conditional key reference), and conaction (conditional processing action). Aerospace organizations can leverage these attributes to conditionally include or exclude content based on specific criteria. For example, information that is relevant to one aircraft model but not another can be conditionally included in the documentation for the appropriate model. This ensures that each document is tailored to the specific requirements of the aircraft it pertains to.


Here’s an example of how DITA enables aerospace organizations to manage documentation variants for different aircraft models:

<topic id="maintenance_manual">
  <title>Maintenance Manual</title>
      <title>Maintenance Procedures</title>
      <p>This section includes general maintenance procedures applicable to all aircraft models.</p>
    <section conref="maintenance_a320.dita">
      <title>Maintenance for A320</title>
      <p>These procedures are specific to the Airbus A320 model.</p>
    <section conref="maintenance_b747.dita">
      <title>Maintenance for B747</title>
      <p>These procedures are specific to the Boeing 747 model.</p>

In this example, the maintenance manual includes general procedures and conditionally references specific maintenance documents for the Airbus A320 and Boeing 747 models. This approach allows organizations to maintain a single source of truth for each procedure while customizing documentation for different aircraft models.