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Does it make sense to upload aviation tracks to osm?

I occasionally check the area I'm editing for uploaded tracks (pressing 'g' in potlatch or checking 'Raw GPS data' in josm and sometimes see (nearly) straight tracks crossing the area which turn out to be aviation tracks. Unless there will be an in the near future which possibly could make use of such tracks I do not see any sense in uploading aviation tracks to osm which is intended to map the ground on earth... ;-)

asked 17 Jul '10, 16:26

katpatuka's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%


Many people mistakenly believe that air traffic runs along predefined "airways" and that it would thus make sense to try and map these.

The truth is that today, apart from relatively fixed approach and departure patterns in the immediate vicinity of airports, the path travelled by an aeroplane between two places can be almost anything and while airways do exist they are only very rarely used by airliners.

A big airport can easily have 10 or 20 approach and departure patterns, and they are all subject to change at any time (at which time any track recorded on one of the old patterns will be of histographic interest only).

It is thus my opinion that uploading aviation tracks to OSM is not useful at best, and misleading mappers at worst. I suggest to try and contact the uploader and ask them to stop.

If you feel you definitely must upload aviation tracks, at least upload them as "identifiable" so people have a theoretical chance to filter them out in their clients.

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answered 17 Jul '10, 16:35

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%

Aerial routes is not as fixed as one might believe, specially on long haul flights. Often weather data accuired only a few hours before departure will determine the chosen route, and the only fixed points on the route apart from airport of origin and destination airport (many of these might use various runways depending on weather conditions) are some signal beacons. The purpose of these signal beacons are similar to the use of lighthouses at sea, and mainly there to give the pilots a bearing, and not necessary mark a waypoint. Tagging flight paths will than be similar to tagging offpist ski tracks, they change for each pass.

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answered 10 Oct '10, 14:11

Skippern's gravatar image

accept rate: 33%

My point is you can still create a route relation for specific airports on certain routes, and from this have something that you can potentially get /some/ idea what route you might take using public transport, from, say, Pioneer Square in Seattle to Times Square in New York, assuming cost is not an issue and a car is.

(12 Oct '10, 02:17) Baloo Uriza

No, it does not make sense.

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answered 07 Jan '11, 15:28

Kartograefin's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Flight path and routes are quite complex. Taking the European case, an airline files a generic flight plan and an alternate. Once this is filed in CFMU (the Eurocontrol flight plan system), routes are allocated accordingly to various factors (weather, traffic, restrictions, strikes, military restrictions...NOTMAS and AIP are pulibhsed everyday causing change in aircraft routings. Also, approach and take off are changing during the day mainly based on wind. In a nutshell, it would be complex to add route info. This would require to connect to a flight planning system (there are some freeware used for Flight simulator for example with a high level of realism).

Second point is that SESAR is changing the way aircraft will fly. Sweden, the UK and other countries will move from a VOR to VOR based flight route to a direct trajectory. The trajectory will be optimised in 4D.

Third point, I am not sure whether airline schedule are public data or not. Two vendors OAG and Innovata resell these data. Though, Eurocontrol is delivering CFMU data to airlines.

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answered 03 Mar '13, 10:49

Christophe%20Imbert's gravatar image

Christophe I...
accept rate: 0%


Aerial flights may be useful for determining airline routes without plagiarism proprietary airline timetables.

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answered 17 Jul '10, 16:39

Baloo%20Uriza's gravatar image

Baloo Uriza
accept rate: 9%

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question asked: 17 Jul '10, 16:26

question was seen: 15,055 times

last updated: 03 Mar '13, 10:49

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum