[OSM-talk] Airspace & Co.

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Tue Jun 7 08:41:29 BST 2011


    we have this recurring topic in various parts of OSM - airspace 

I'm strictly against it.

(For those not familiar with airspace, here's an example of a VFR 
airspace map: 

My arguments against airspace mapping are:

1. Imports of un-observable things that are defined by other people 
should be kept to an absolute minimum in OSM. Airspace definitions 
change regularly and the only way to have them in OSM is to import them 
again and again.

2. Airspace (since it only rarely has any connection to features on the 
ground) is perfectly suited for an overlay; very little would be gained 
by having it in OSM rather than in a parallel system maintained by a 
flying enthusiast.

3. For the same reason, airspace boundaries cut right across the 
country, through cities, and so on, and provide an unnecessary 
distraction to mappers.

4. 99% of Airspace is of almost no significance to non-pilots. Arguments 
like "one would like to know if the house one intends to buy is within 
some kind of airspace" are fantasy.

5. Pilots would not use a crowdsourced airspace map; they are legally 
required to have a current official map anyway when they fly somewhere. 
It seems to me that people who would like to have airspace in OSM are 
mostly flight simulator aficionados, and while I find that an 
interesting pastime, one has to be honest about it: Flight simulators 
are computer games.

6. The usual form in which airspace is published is on printed, 
copyrighted maps; it is difficult, if not impossible, to actually get 
your hands on airspace descriptions that are official and not copyright 

There was limited discussion here recently:


although this question was a little broader, concerning not only 
airspace but also other aviation-related items such as beacons. My 
position in that discussion was: If a feature is observable on the 
ground and doubles as an aviation reporting point - no problem, tag it. 
But if something is defined just by its coordinates or a mark on an 
airspace map - don't.

The beast rears its head in this "proposed feature" from 2009


and in its German counterpart,


and on


the topic is briefly referenced. Also there was discussion about 
aviation tracks on help.osm last year:


There are currently 21 "airspace" objects in OSM.

I would like to end this discussion once and for all, or at least for 
the near future, and create a wiki page named "Aviation", to which I 
would link from the "Aeroways" page and from "Airspace", and I would 
also close the "Proposed Feature" with a link to that page.

On the "Aviation" page, I would write up the reasons against airspace 
mapping, basically as given above and on the "mapping-for-aviation" help 
page, concluding that mapping for aviation is discouraged

On that page I would also suggest that someone who is reasonably 
interested should set up a rails port instance of their own, complete 
with a rendering chain to generate half-transparent tiles that can be 
overlaid over a standard map. And I would even offer them my help in 
doing that.

But before I do all that, I would like to hear from the community at 
large - you - whether you share my view. Do you agree that airspace 
should be elsewhere but not in OSM? Or do you think that airspace should 
have a place in OSM after all?


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