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Navigation Data

Introduction to Navigation Data

What is Navigation Data?Read the “What is Navigation Data?” section

Navigation data is used in the Flight Management System (FMS) onboard an aircraft. That’s why we sometimes refer to navigation data as FMS Data and use the two interchangeably.

Generally speaking navigation data is a database with geographical coordinates for objects that may have properties such as name, id, and frequency. As an example, waypoints are point data with latitude and longitude coordinates and an id, whereas a navaid also has altitude and a frequency as properties. Moreover they may have additional instructions as to how they should be passed and whether they require the pilot to report to air traffic control. An airport is also point data that has an id, a name, a reference coordinate, and an altitude, but also a set of communication frequencies. Airways and procedures consist of sets of waypoints that make up strings. Airspaces are polygons. There are also more intricate geometries, so called leg types, which describe how to fly into airports.

The objects in the database are described in the ARINC 424 specification. However, data providers do not license the original ARINC 424 to be used in flight simulators such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, Lockheed Martin Prepar3D or Laminar Research X-Plane, so developers instead define their own data formats where they pick only the objects and properties that are useful to their particular application. Navigraph’s role is to parse the ARINC 424 navigation database into the formats defined by developers. Traditionally, the formats defined by developers vary in complexity, and seldom have an official documentation or reference. For this reason we have developed a general navigation data format which tends to fit most addon developers. We call it Digital Flight Data (DFD), for which we provide a full specification and sample databases. Alternatively we can offer custom datasets.

Delivery MethodsRead the “Delivery Methods” section

Navigation data can be delivered from Navigraph to subscribers in four ways.

The recommended way to deliver navigation data to a flight simulator addon or tool is to use our Navigation Data API. A subscriber needs to enter their Navigraph username and password for Open ID Connect authentication in a window which is displayed by the addon software. If the user has a valid subscription the addon can call Navigation data API endpoints to download an entire updated navigation database. Implementing the Navigation Data API requires the developer to apply for a Client ID and then follow a review process before the addon software can be published. For example, the review process is intended to ensure that safeguards are in place to prevent users with an expired subscription to access functionality in the software which relies on current navigation data. The Navigation Data API is particularly useful to deliver navigation data to addon software which do not run on the flight simulator computer, or to applications where the file system is not easily accessible to the end user. Mobile apps typically use this API. However, since it is an API, it could also be integrated directly into any addon software if the FMS Data Manager (below) is not an option.

Another way, which is also the most widely used, is to deliver data packages via the Navigraph Hub and the FMS Data Manager software, which helps with automatically detecting installed simulators, tools, and addons, and installing the navigation data into the proper locations on the flight simulation computer. Navigraph Hub is used for Microsoft Flight Simulator, and FMS Data Manager is used for X-Plane, Prepar3D and FSX. These apps can also perform bulk operations which allows the subscriber to update many addons quickly. The apps can be downloaded from the downloads page.

Manual InstallersRead the “Manual Installers” section

Some users prefer to use our manual installers. They are individual Windows installers or compressed file archives which only update one addon navigation database at a time, and the subscriber also needs to know where to put the data. End users tend to use these installers for testing or workarounds. The manual installers are designed to deliver data to addon software which run on the flight simulator computer. Manual installers can be downloaded from the downloads page.

The data is provided by Jeppesen, and is updated according to the AIRAC cycle every 28 days. It is the largest and most comprehensive database of its kind in the world.