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Australian Aerodrome and Navaid databases

Guest carlsnilsson

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Guest carlsnilsson

G'day all:


It annoys me greatly that databases of aerodrome and other info, such


as are contained in ERSA, are so commercialised. I have a liking for


writing some of my own modest navigation software in various versions


of Visual Basic for PC and Pocket PC for my own entertainment, but


access to Australian database info is unduly difficult. This should be


downloadable (for a very modest fee)


from Airservices, but no it is not. They commercialise what is public


data and sell it to foreign companies like Jeppesen so we can buy it at


exhorbitant cost. Even small Australian concerns like Raptor Designs (John Reynoldson) take ERSA data (I'm not sure how he gets it - must ask)


and hide it in obscure formats like *.wdf files. If safety is a


concern, these data should be very readily available to the public


directly from the collator (Airservices). Even our maps, with their rapidly changing airspace, have to be purchased (in electronic form)


from an overseas company. It still costs $10 to download a single map,


originally made from data collected and surveyed at taxpayer cost.


So, it was a breath of fresh air to have sites like J Hovel's http://users.monash.edu.au/~jhovel/gps.shtml


which had these data in usable form. Unfortunately, those files date


back to 1999. One can also use Waypoint to download jeppeson databases


from Garmin GPS's, so I believe. Is anybody out there current on these


matters? Does anyone have near-up-to-date data available in simple


useable form? CSV files are OK. Exel files would be good. It would be


nice to make aerodrome plates an optional part of the database.


Sometimes, flying into a strange aerodrome, a picture including


taxiways is very useful. Any thoughts, suggestions or offers, anyone? I


think I will send this off to AirServices for comment.





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One of my other passions in Cross-Country Soaring and while it may not


be exactly what you want, the Gliding community have terrific data


bases for most registered and bush strips as well as key landmarks that


they use as turn-points.


Most Clubs have their data bases for their area and make them freely available, many times on their websites.


I use them with WinPilot into an Ipaq PDA. They are mostly very


accurate for strips but I don't think they'll help you much for




An example of such freely available downloads is at http://www.australian-soaring-corowa.com/download.htm but I guess you'll need WinPilot or StrePla to access them.


Just checked my WinPilot manual and they recommend the following link for list of worldwide turnpoints & airports http://acro.harvard.edu/SOARING/JL/TP


Does that help or hinder?


Regards Geoff



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Guest carlsnilsson



That's most helpful, thank you for the prompt response. I don't know


about WinPilot, but I'll find out. I do use an iPAQ PDA. To date, I


have been using OziExplorerCE or, lately, PocketFMS. What is really


needed is to have these various databases collected and collated onto a


Recreational site, along with a guide to their use. Following this line


of thought, why could not RA-Aus purchase Australia's e-maps and have


them freely downloadable for members? They may not be able to sell


them, but surely they could be made available online to members?





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I think you can download a trial copy of WinPilot.


It is mainly a Gliding Program with final glide calculator, task


selections etc, but you will find the winds aloft, terrain elevations,


airport data (all runway details, frequencies etc)


and some other features to be of interest and use in Ultralights. A


Gliding Task is just a flight plan and with the right data base, that


will give you XTE, time to run etc on WinPilot on the screen.


Let us know what you think of it.


Regards Geoff



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I have discvered a way to take the data from online ERSA and convert to


Excel if anyone is interested - if I can just remember how I did it!


But I did then put them in to my own private database on my GPS (in fact on reflection it was the VFR Waypoint data)



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Guest carlsnilsson

Paul and others:


You bet I am interested! Please do your best to recall how you transferred ERSA data into Excel files and let me know at <[email protected]>. That's just the sort of thing we want.


Before my recent trip to Narromine, I spent a lot of time (a real lot of time)


scanning WACs, VTCs etc in A4 segements, carefully recalibrating them


into desired projections and then re-synthesing them into *.ozf3 files


for OziExplorer. We should'nt have to do that. Now I see you can buy


these from MapTrax for $10 ea. That may seem pretty small, but if you


try to stay current on a bunch, it adds up to heaps each year. I


propose we form a private group - club - called "The Tight-Fisted Mob" (TFM)


and each buy one map of our choice. Then we post on this site a list of


maps we hold - maybe our coordinator can facilitate this and set up a


special TFM section. Maybe the coordinator can in fact hold our maps


which can be downloaded by TFM member in exchange for their uploading


one - or we could use FTP to exchange. Some simple mechanism for


sharing Australian respources and databases is called for. Any




Carl</[email protected]>



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Guest carlsnilsson



Somehow my address got omitted from my last post. It is


[email protected]. Also, I believe I made an error in referring to


MapTrax as an overseas company in my first post. The address is in


Queensland, so it would appear to be an Australian company. It doesn't


really change my argument. I think $10 to download each map and, by


regulation, to do so regularly to keep them current with the latest


airspace reshuffle, is too much. I have no objection to MapTrax


offering these, but why are they not available directly from


airservices in this form? I am beginning to see that AirSafety concerns


in this country are hypocritical. CASA is charged with promoting air


safety - indeed I have just attended one of their pilot forums - yet


obvious measures like promoting free downloads of ERSA and current av


maps are ignored. There is a contradiction between having a publically


funded body charged with promoting air safety and then asking it to


increase it's cost recovery measures.





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Guest Guest

Hi Carl,


don't you find that PocketFMS has enough information?


They keep updating their info and adding more airfields. I think they are also trying to collect airfield data.


ERSA PDFs seem to be encypted. But if you convert (effectively print) to postscript and then convert back to PDF or directly to HTML then you have a format that you can extract the info.


Have a look at where FlightGear gets its information. I managed to track down its source and found airfield data for the world.


Country Airstrips Guide use to publish the lat/lon of the airfields on


its web page. It looks like they recently stopped doing that.









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Guest carlsnilsson

G'day Peter:


thanks for posting. Yes, basically PocketFMS has the data, and I am


impressed with the package, which I used to Narromine and back. I guess


there must be country strips they don't have and I had to put in an IFR


Reporting point (AUDRA)


by hand - although I cannot swear it is not there, as I am still


learning how to use the program. Some of it is not that intuitive - it


is a very powerful set of software. How it compares with WinPilot, I'm


not sure, not having yet tried the latter. It certainly is cheaper.


However, that is only part of what I am on about: firstly, I should be


able to access these databases other than using software witten the


other side of the world. I don't know how to open up PocketFMS


databases, do you? Secondly, I have been developing my own specialised


software for a instrument package that includes a GPS engine. I want to


add a simple "go to" function so that "desired track (bearing)


and distance" can be displayed. For that I want a database like that of


PocketFMS. I'm not trying to emulate PocketFMS or OziExplorerCE or any


other moving map program.


Thanks for your suggestions re ERSA. I think access to these data should be free (we have already paid through our taxes)


and facilitated and I think we could do that through this site. Fair


enough to charge for software that people develop to use the data, but


the databases should be freely available. So should government maps


accessed online.





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Guest Guest

For those that don't know. PocketFMS is free (pocketfms.com) and is quite good for flight planning on the PC, as well as flight management on a PocketPC.


I find new airports appearing on each monthly update.


The interface takes a bit of getting use to. The PC interface seems to


work similar to the PocketPC interface. But once you get use to it, you


can do things rather quickly.


Although I have managed to extract ERSA data, I get the impression that


they don't want us to do that, so I don't. I've been working with the


FlightGear data. For my purposes it seems to be fine.


Good luck in convincing the government to make the data free.


PocketFMS's User Maintained NavData might be a solution. I just glanced


over it. I don't know if they will make the data available for free or











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I guess you have already checked it out, but I had forgotten that


http://www.winpilot.com have a complete separate system from the Gliding


program that I was interested in when I bought it last year.


Their offering for power aircraft is Winpilot VFR.


I had forgotten about that.


Is their free airspace download any help to you?


Regards Geoff



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Guest carlsnilsson

Good on you Paul. I'll be interested to know how your solution compares


with Peter's. His posting offered promise. I happen to have a copy of


OmniPage Pro 14 which says it can convert pdf into Word files. I have


not yet installed it, but I presume it will do as it says. Once into


Word, all should become straightforward. Together we should be able to


arrive at a neat solution which can benefit all members. I haven't


heard back from Joe Hovel (Monash Uni) - maybe he has


moved on. Neither have I heard from AirServices yet. We should continue


to get a system organized ourselves re ERSA and in due course, I will


either write formally myself or ask Lee Ungerman to do that or both.


One can make a good case as a safety issue. For example, when I packed


the Fox to go to Narromine, I took a good look at the size of ERSA,


sighed, and then threw it in. With a dinghy, jerry can and other gear,


I did not have a lot of office space. I also promised myself that next


time I will cut it down to include only the info I need, but probably


that won't happen. With an e-version, we could put it on a flash card


and/or print out just the info we want.





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Yes Carl,


In fact I have an e-version of the data I need and take it on my PDA,


which also doubles as a number of other useful tools like Moving Map


GPS, MP3 Player for the Intercom etc.


I 'believe' one method may be to copy the data from the ERSA electronic


pages and paste in to Excel. Then apply a conversion formula to get the


decimal Lat Lon, and convert in to a .csv file which some GPS will


import (Lowrance definitely). What format do Garmins need to import waypoints?


There are some examples 'floating' around out there - I believe.


Apparently ERS-A .pdf's are not encrypted as such, but they are


password protected. This has either to do with legal liability or


intellectual property. I can see no argument for it being IP as it is


safety related. Legal liability - I will leave that to the bush lawyers


to argue out. How secure is a .pdf password? (A: Apparently not very)



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Guest carlsnilsson

Well, here's an example of an ERSA pdf file - VFR waypoints. Garmins


can take in CSV data, as best I recall. You can certainly upload to the


user database. I don't have a modern Garmin - I still use my model


12XL, which only has a user database. My preference is, for a moving


map display, to use a PDA or (coming soon in my high-tech Fox ) an 8" high-vis tough screen display off a Single Board Computer (running Win 98 ). With the trusty Garmin 12XL, all I want really is that lovely big arrow showing th direction I should fly!


Now, with these data attached, the next step is for someone more


experienced than I to put them into a format that is easily used and


accessible to modest programmers. Let's have some suggestions - it


would be good to arrive at an RA-Aus standard. I had better take


another look at Joe Hovel's old site.







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Guest carlsnilsson



I did check out the WinPilot site and saw they had a VFR version. At


the moment I'm up to my ass in alligators, as they say, so don't have


time to try it out. I'm sure it's very good software, but having just


come to grips with PocketFMS, which is free or, if you want to


encourage and support them, you can be a donor with some extra


downloading privileges for USD70. I'll take a look at WinPilot's


downloads later. Thanks.





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Guest carlsnilsson

Paul: thanks for that. I've looked at the file in Excel and all seems


well. .csv certainly seems a compact format - the previous 122 KB .pdf


file went down to 11 KB. The process now seems reasonably


straightforward, although I have yet to actually do it myself. Our


moderator got back to me and seems happy to host a download site once


the new site gets going (in a few weeks). So this seems


a way to go and we can use this site for more than just exchanging


views. I would like to see a fairly complete set of digital av maps


available also, so the site is seen by members as a useful source of


nav data. I think the idea of a number of us buying a map or two and


posting them should be viable. There is no question of us selling them.


We could well cooperate with other aviation bodies like the gliding


community and AOPA to put the most complete set of data together.





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  • 2 years later...

Hi Carl and others,


I just chanced on this thread. Has any progress been made since 2006 on establishing a website for members where we could upload and share electronic versions of IFR and VFR Waypoints, Airfield data / templates and Airservices Maps?


I'm interested in creating an 'Electroinic Flight Bag' (EFB) or similar.



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JayKay, Recreational Flying will be expanding the airfield data in the Airstrips section http://www.recreationalflying.com/forum/vbgooglemaphse.php?do=list soon. However, in the mean time you may wish to add any waypoints, airfields etc in that section including anything that anyone knows about each airstrip. A great tool to use



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  • 6 months later...
Guest raptordesigns
Even small Australian concerns .... take ERSA data ... and hide it in obscure formats

All the Australian companies distributing AIS data do so under the auspices of a strict contract with AirServices Australia that requires that the data be distributed encrypted so that it can't be re-distributed without proper controls on currency and accuracy.


AirServices also requires that they keep records on who the data was distributed to so that they can be contacted in the event that there is a data issue affecting flight safety. The programs that use the data should also warn you if the data is out of date.


They believe that there is a duty of care from AirServices as well from by the folks providing flight planning software to assure that data is up to date and accurate.



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