DAFIF® (Digital Aeronautical Flight Information File), a product of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, was a fantastic resource for authoritative information on non-US airports. Unfortunately, effective 1 October 2006, public distribution of this information was terminated. Over the subsequent span of nearly nine years, replacing that data with informaton from the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) of various countries has been a high priority for the Great Circle Mapper.
Incorporating AIP data is not as easy as it might seem. Some countries place copyright restrictons on the data, precluding its use. More often, the data is available but not in a form which is friendly for inclusion in a database, often collections of PDF documents which though pretty for humans are difficult for automated extraction of data. Processing these files often involves writing rather nasty scripts to translate the PDF documents. In the case of Russia, that also meant transliterating the Cyrillic alphabet and translating a bit of Russian.
Once the data is in a useful form, it still needs to be checked carefully. Even for authoritative sources, errors occur (and for a few countries AIP data has proven to be so full of errors as to be useless). When replacing older data, differences in details need to be checked and name differences need to be reconciled.
Importing the AIP for Russia has been a major effort over the past few months, but the project has added hundreds of new landing facilities and updated the data for many more. With this and other recent AIP imports, nearly 30% of the Great Circle Mapper's non-US database is based on AIP data, finally surpassing DAFIF as a source. (The United States is a special case because over 40% of the landing facilities are in the US; the US Federal Aviation Administration publishes data updates in a machine-friendly format every 56 days.)
Today's Featured Map illustrates the top 50 locations in Russia, all but one of which now use data from the AIP of the Russian Federation. (The exception is MOW, the IATA code for the Moscow metropolitan area.)
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Karl L. Swartz.
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