This section provides pointers to software packages and data for computer based aviation charting and cartography. Such packages are really a specialized type of Geographic Information System or GIS (an information system that is designed to manipulate and display data referenced by spatial or geographic coordinates). With this in mind, I have also included pointers to GIS software packages that were not developed specifically for aviation use, but may still be of interest to aviators.
Readers with general questions about charting or cartography are most
likely to find answers from the GIS community. The USENET newsgroup
was created specifically for the discussion of GIS related topics. There
is an excellent GIS FAQ, available in HTML and plain ASCII text formats
The avdbtools package is designed to assist in creating and maintaining databases for aviation applications. As of this release, avdbtools consists of a single application that reads the databases distributed by the United States National Flight Data Center and converts them into formats usable by other aviation related applications. The current release can generate output for both ICAO Map and fplan.
John C. Peterson
0.3, Mar 2000
GNU General Public License, version 2
From the author: "The US National Airspace Data is no longer available for free download over the Internet. However, the data can now be obtained on an ISO 9660 CD-ROM for a nominal fee by writing to the FAA. The latest release of avdbtools has been updated to work with the new NASD CD-ROM distributions."
Geographic Resources Analysis Support System, more commonly referred to as GRASS, is a free Geographic Information System (GIS) for data management, image processing, graphics production, spatial modeling, and visualization of many types of data. It was originally written by the US Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories (USA-CERL) branch of the US Army Corp of Engineers as a tool for land management and environmental planning by the military. GRASS has evolved into a powerful utility with a wide range of applications in many different areas of scientific research.
The official headquarters for GRASS support, research, and development is now at Baylor University, within the the Center for Applied Geographic and Spatial Research. The development currently underway has resulted in two new GRASS versions 4.2 and 5.0, the release of new manuals and documentation, as well as continued research and development for new versions.
GRASS Development Team
5.0 beta2, 26 Jul 1999
Copyrighted, free for non-commercial use
From the editor: "Not for users with small disk drives!"
ICAO Map is designed to interactively display maps or charts for aviation applications. The input is a so called "world file", an ASCII file containing descriptions of geographic objects such as airports, roads, cities, navigational aids, and the like. The generated map can be displayed in an X11/Motif window or saved as a postscript format file. Notable features include: selectable Lambert or Mercator projections, zooming, scrolling, rubber band lines for measuring distances and tracks, etc. Many additional features are available for both motorized and soaring flights.
1.0, Feb 1996
GNU General Public License, version 2
From the editor: "There hasn't been any development activity since the 1.0 release. Does anyone have current contact information for Martin? It would be helpful to determine if he has any plans for continued development."
TNTmips is a commercial software package for fully integrated GIS, desktop cartography, geospatial database management, image processing, CAD, and TIN. The entire TNT product line is available for all popular computing platforms. In addition, TNT project files are transparently portable; the same files can be used on different computer types without any explicit conversion. TNTlite is a free version of TNTmips, TNTedit, and TNTview for students and others with small projects. It can be downloaded by ftp at no cost, or purchased on CD-ROM for a nominal cost of 10 USD.
New updates quarterly (Mar, Jun, Sep, Dec)
Commercial and Free (binary only) versions available
From the editor: "Many positive comments from users of TNTmips, TNTlite on the USENET newsgroups. The folks at MicroImages have done an excellent job with regard to the number of platforms they support."
This CD-ROM contains raster scans of all NOAA Sectionals published for the continental United States. Each sectional is composed of smaller image tiles that average about 600 kilobytes each. The data files are primarily intended for use with the company's moving map software (available for Microsoft Windows only). However, the files are in Portable Network Graphics or PNG format, so they are readable by most of the image conversion and display software packages that are in common use under Linux.
RMS Technology, Inc.
New updates every 6-9 months
Copyrighted (c) RMS Technology, Inc. (99.95 USD)