Do we also use aeroway=aerodrome for small airfields like those for small Cessnas or gliders? I find it a little bit disturbing that they appear on Mapnik as the same as large commerical airports. How can we tag those small airfields so that they can be rendered differently?

asked 15 Jan '11, 20:37

ALE's gravatar image

accept rate: 14%

How about calling it a "Private Air Strip"

This is the description used by the Ontario Flying Farmers

(23 Jan '12, 15:33) OldDreamer

You can tag access=private as necessary.

(23 Jan '12, 15:36) Baloo Uriza

There is currently no way to tag the size of the aerodrome. It could be possible to make a new tag to indicate whether the aerodrome is local, national or international.

permanent link

answered 15 Jan '11, 22:54

Gnonthgol's gravatar image

Gnonthgol ♦
accept rate: 16%

edited 17 Jan '11, 15:33

ChrisH's gravatar image



The size of the field doesn't stop aircraft flying internationally.

(17 Jan '11, 15:35) ChrisH

Rather than tagging an airport as a node, tagging it as a closed way that follows the airport's property lines tends to be more informative, as does mapping as much of the airport as possible. Examples:

permanent link

answered 05 Apr '11, 17:00

Baloo%20Uriza's gravatar image

Baloo Uriza
accept rate: 9%

OK, I'm new and somewhat surprised (and frustrated?) that the OSM is inaccurate and cannot be fixed, at least not yet.

So, this is what deomocratic mapping is like ... 13 months of discussion and still no decision, no improvement.

This discussion began with a question about airstrips that are large enough only for "Cessnas and gliders". My question which led me to this discussion was about dirt airstrips that appear on many farms near my home. These are far below the threshold of 25 million or 2 million passengers per year. Or international vs. domestic airports. They are not in the same class. Not in the same domain of commercial activity.

These are the equivalent of driveways which you use to approach and park your car in your garage. They are private. They are not for business or passengers. They are not "ports".

How does the OSM process move forward to resolve this now and make the map more accurate and useful?

permanent link

answered 23 Jan '12, 14:32

MarylandGIS's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 23 Jan '12, 14:33

I don't think that's a fair assessment of the situation. Map the aerodrome more completely and you have a better idea of what kind of airport you're looking at. For large passenger airports, be sure to also include the terminal. Odds are, that's what people looking for passenger airline services are trying to find, not the airport itself.

(23 Jan '12, 14:46) Baloo Uriza

OSM is neither democratic, nor is there a problem with the system in this case. Of course the map can be fixed anytime and by anyone. You don't have to wait for any discussion or decision, it is you who decides (provided that you respect what others have contributed, so don't change values for well established keys unless they are not what they should be. Instead refine with new keys/values the information available).

(23 Jan '12, 14:48) dieterdreist

"How does the OSM process move forward to resolve this now and make the map more accurate and useful?" -> do something? I don't recall any discussion lately concerning this topic on the relevant mailing list (tagging). I suggest you post there and start a discussion or you simply add the detail to the map that you need.

(23 Jan '12, 14:50) dieterdreist

Hi Paul. Thanks for taking time to reply. But did you read my entire comment?

No passengers. No terminals. No one looking FOR this airstrip. Just lots of OSM users SEEING this and thinking -- stupendously erroneously -- that there is ANY airport here. There is not anything here that can be used by any consumer.

(23 Jan '12, 14:51) MarylandGIS

Thank you, @dieterdreist. As I said, I am new to OSM and am feeling my way. Thanks for the pointer to the tagging mailing list.

(23 Jan '12, 14:52) MarylandGIS

If there's an airfield there, no matter how insignificant, the aerodrome tag is appropriate. If not, then it doesn't belong there. There's a lot of former airfields that no longer exist on the map mostly because, for whatever reason, the FAA still thinks they exist, as of the time of the GNIS import.

(23 Jan '12, 14:53) Baloo Uriza

airfield exists. see my original post about the attributes of these types of airfields, which suggest that the tag-attributes should differentiate them from commercial airports/aerodromes/aeroways. It's the airfields capacity (length, surface, absence of facilities) that sets it apart.

(23 Jan '12, 14:56) MarylandGIS

Well, then my initial suggestion still applies: Tag for completeness. Commercial airports tend to have passenger terminals and large parking facilities, which are what people often intend to find when looking for passenger airline service.

(23 Jan '12, 14:59) Baloo Uriza

@MarylandGIS, remember that this is in part an issue of tagging, but it is also an issue of rendering. The overdisplay of airports is obvious in the Mapnik (default) rendering, but you get very different display of airports with, for example the Osmarender or Mapquest Open tiles.

(02 Feb '12, 14:27) neuhausr
showing 5 of 9 show 4 more comments

According to my English dictionary the words "aerodrome", "airfield", "airport", and "airstrip" are all places where aircraft land and take-off.

The term "Airport" implies the provision of passenger and/or freight services, while an "Aerodrome" is a "small" airport. Both terms imply the provision of passenger flights and are synonymous with the aeroway=aerodrome tag in OSM. In commercial aviation, "aerodrome" has a a quite specific meaning. But I do notice that this tag is also used for non-commercial airfields and other places, such as launch sites for free-flying sails and gliders, where passenger aircraft cannot land and passenger transport services are not provided. I think this is bad practice.

Although the term "Airfield" is more general and means a place where aircraft can land or take-off, it does not distinguish between the provision of passenger and non-passenger flights. The corresponding OSM tag is only used about half a dozen times.

However the term "Airstrip" mean a cleared area that aircraft can land or take-off from. On New Zealand's official maps "airstrips" are distinguished from "aerodromes" and [international] "airports". Airstrips indicate places where light, often agricultural, aircraft can land or take-off from but these airfields are not suitable for larger aircraft carrying passengers because they don't have any passenger facilities or aviation infrastucture such as air traffic control or landing aids. Often these airstrips are merely a farm paddock or hill-ridge that has a firm flat surface covered in short grass.

On 19 Nov 2012 changeset 13927540 introduced the (undocumented) tag aeroway=airstrip for about 3500 paddocks used as airstrips in New Zealand. There are perhaps another 100 uses of this tag elsewhere in the world. However this tag makes up about 1% of all uses of the aeroway key. Additionally, most of these places are nodes.

Given the airstrip tag is already in use it could be used for those small (private?) airfields that are little more than a cleared farm paddock. Such airfields would not normally have an IATA or ICAO code as they do not provide any passenger flights nor have related aviation services, such as air traffic control or landing aids.

permanent link

answered 29 Jan '17, 13:21

Huttite's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


I have found two old feature proposals for aiport sizes on the wiki:

Another possible tagging scheme for airport sizes is to use the classification of the ACI (Airports Council International):

  • Group 1: more than 25 million passengers per year
  • Group 2: between 10 and 25 million passengers per year
  • Group 3: between 5 and 10 million passengers per year
  • Group 4: less than 5 million passengers per year

So something like acigroup=1 would mean ACI size group 1.

I would write a proposal if someone helped me to do it. So please contact me.

permanent link

answered 17 Jan '11, 13:53

ALE's gravatar image

accept rate: 14%

So far I haven't received a feedback from anybody. No comments?

(31 Jan '11, 16:03) ALE

don't know if you still are waiting for help, but here you go: * these are the guidelines to write a proposal: The easiest way to do it is take the source code of an existent proposal and copy it into your new proposal page. Then change the content and save. Ask for comments on the tagging mailing list ( ). To create a new page, simply enter the desired url in your browser and see if it is available (e.g. )

(30 Mar '11, 18:51) dieterdreist

There is actually a hack that works with the mapnik stylesheet: if you tag the airport with aeroway=airport it will render with a different icon 2 zoom levels before all the aeroway=aerodrome features.

There is no official consensus for this tagging because of a vocal minority which says all airports from the lawn to start and land RC controlled miniatures to the international airport should be tagged with the same aeroway tag, and more details should be deducted automatically looking at the length and surface of the runway or by merging the data with data about the number of flights/passengers from and to this airport.

permanent link

answered 29 Mar '11, 12:13

dieterdreist's gravatar image

accept rate: 3%


people don't seem to like this (looking at the votes), but personally I think it is not a bad idea to have at least 2 tags for airports, so that you can distinct bigger and more important ones from smaller ones. aeroway=airport is working ;-)

(31 Mar '11, 12:02) dieterdreist

You'd better invent some custom tag that would fit better with that minority. In that case of RC models I don't think aeroway is the proper tag, but it should be something about 'leisure' or 'sport'. Doing render hacks is not a good thing. The OSM data is the backend of all OpenStreetMap systems and it should be render-independent.

(31 Mar '11, 13:45) ivanatora

I was using the word "hack" because this is not documented in the wiki, but it is not actually a "hack". It is introducing another class of airports/aerodromes to make at least a rough distinction. It has nothing to do with "render hack" or "mapping for the renderer" IMHO.

(13 Apr '11, 10:36) dieterdreist

There are some international 'catalogues' of airports like ICAO or IATA. If the airport is listed there it should be added as aeroway=aerodrome, IMHO. Google manages to find some sites with list of airports like this:,lon=27.844934463500977,zoom=14,type=Satellite,airport=LB34 The LB34 identifier is an ICAO identifier (LB is for country - Bulgaria) and it also can be tagged with icao=LB34.

You can find more tagging information here:

permanent link

answered 31 Mar '11, 09:59

ivanatora's gravatar image

accept rate: 7%

The are many (all?) airfields that have a ICAO identifier. So this is not a good criterium. (E.g. there are many small/unused airfields in Argentina that have ICAO codes but are so small that they should be differentiated from "real" airports.

(08 Apr '11, 08:07) ALE

And what should be a definition for a "real" airport?

(11 Apr '11, 13:36) ivanatora

Regular commercial flights? Big enough for jet airplanes? Don't know exactly. But IMHO a mere landing strip should be handled differently from an airport.

(11 Apr '11, 14:01) ALE

I agree completely, but we may need some kind of more precise specifications of different airport classifications. There are some interesting proposals at the wiki Airport page here:

(13 Apr '11, 17:56) ivanatora
Your answer
toggle preview

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text]( "title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported

Question tags:


question asked: 15 Jan '11, 20:37

question was seen: 10,612 times

last updated: 29 Jan '17, 13:21

powered by OSQA