Howto:Make an airport
This article will guide you through the process of creating an airport and link you to related articles.
- 1 A note about licenses
- 2 Runways, taxiways and aprons
- 3 Terminals, towers and hangars
- 4 Related content
A note about licenses
Official FlightGear scenery is, as the rest of the program and data, licensed under the GNU General Public License v2. In order to have your work included in the official scenery, it must comply with this license.
In short this means that you can only use images that:
- you created yourself, entirely from scratch. This is the case when you draw something, or take a photograph of a building.
- you received permission for to release under the GNU GPL v2.
- are licensed under a GNU GPL v2 compatible license (eg. Public Domain).
Google Earth imagery is per definition not compatible. For the USA you can download the High Resolution Orthoimagery jpeg from http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/ and use that to trace airports or buildings. For other countries, you might use OpenStreetMap data if available. Note that OpenStreetMap has been granted the right to trace over Yahoo and Bing aerial images, so it can get quite accurate. Consider learning how to map airports in OSM.
Alternatively you can estimate the lengths and widths of the buildings by looking at pictures.
Runways, taxiways and aprons
What you need
- WorldEditor - to "draw" the layout of the airport (taxiways, runways, aprons)
- Runway layout data - either from the USA Airport & Scenery Database or from other free imagery
- Other data (approach lighting systems, frequencies etc.) about the airport you want to make
- TerraGear - to turn the layout into useable scenery
- Shapefiles for the area around your airport - http://mapserver.flightgear.org/download.psp
- Heightmaps - http://dds.cr.usgs.gov/srtm/version2_1/ or, to more closely match the official world scenery, use http://www.viewfinderpanoramas.org/Coverage%20map%20viewfinderpanoramas_org3.htm
Ubuntu users, can use the script in Ubuntu fg tools.
The very first step before creating a new airport layout is to check if the airport already exists in the airport database. Latest data is available at http://data.x-plane.com/get_data.html If we find our airport there, we can improve it, if not, we start a new layout. This is all done in WorldEditor.
So if we have done the airport in WED, we save it as "ICAO.dat" (replacing ICAO with the ICAO code of your airport). That's the X-Plane fileformat, which is used by FlightGear too.
A note about the formats
FlightGear once used the 810 version of the apt.dat file format, while now 850 is on duty. The difference between them is mainly that 850 allows laying down taxiways/taxilines indipendently, and making them bend smoothly (with ), while in 810 there were only rectangles of taxiways with a yellow line in the middle. You can tell an old airport by the fact that crossings and bends are rounded by overlaying a number of rectangular patches. If you meet one, consider converting it, and as you're already there try to gather information to make it better!
Turning the airport into FlightGear scenery
There are three possibilities, the later two require TerraGear, but have the advantage that you can view the result immediately:
- Use WED to upload your layout to http://gateway.x-plane.com/ as explained at #Share your layout with the world! and wait for the next FlightGear scenery build to include your airport.
- Howto: Test your airport layout: quick and easy, for a quick look at your airport. This will place your airport in the middle of an ocean.
- Using TerraGear, you can create an entire scenery, including the surrounding terrain.
FlightGear and X-Plane make use of the same airport data. The X-Plane team has set up a scenery gateway that allows you to submit your layout for inclusion in the official scenery of both simulators. At this moment, FlightGear does not have access to the gateway though. You are advised not to submit your layout for the time being, but instead keep it on your computer. As of early October 2014 it is expected that we can start processing layouts in a couple of weeks. Keep an eye on this forum topic for updates and more information.
Terminals, towers and hangars
What you need
- 3D modeling software, like Blender or SketchUp, as long as it can export to the .ac file type.
- Lots of pictures of the buildings at the airport.
Making a 3D model
One meter in FlightGear is one meter in the real world. If you use aerial or satellite imagery to measure out the buildings you'll be fine.
See Howto:Add details to your airport for the main article about this subject.
There exists a few ways which you can place a model unto a scenery, one of which is by manually using the UFO.
recently, Laserman came up a with more intuitive way using WorldEditor, that provides a nice, accessible way to place models using an existing airport layout as reference, but the object placement data exported by WorldEditor cannot be used directly in Flight Gear, hence the use of a python script, that parses the earth.wed.xml in such a way to make 3D model placement data compatible for inclusion into an .stg file. (see Howto: Place 3D objects with WED)
|Tip if you are developing an actual building, it's usually good to get the co-ordinates of one of the corners of the building so you can place it extremely accurately.|
After finishing a building, send your model to the scenery database, as that is the best way for them to be distributed. Everyone who downloads the airport from then on will be able to see your building!