Welcome to the Flight Plan Database - Providing thousands of flight plans to the X-Plane Community
News and Updates
DNS Issues - Added October 8, 2011 by lemon Some of you may have noticed that the URL was being forwarded to a sponsored ad page for ~24 hours on Oct 4th due to the DNS records for this domain being dropped, but by the very fact you are now reading this you will also noticed that the problem has been fixed. If the problem persisted longer for you, it was likely due to caching of the DNS entries beyond the specified expiry time, which some internet providers may do with the services they provide in order to reduce the number of lookups.
15K and 2.0 - Added August 11, 2011 by lemon It's official, we're now at 15,000 flight plans and we passed 1,000 members last month also.
Seven months have flown by without so much as a whisper from me, so I think it's about time I update on the status of projects and the development schedule:
The ground up rebuild of the entire site (for terseness we'll call it FPD 2.0) is flying along and I expect it to be roughly four or so weeks till it is in a state ready for general release. The base work is in place and the slow part is getting it to look right. There'll also be some new additions coming in the following weeks, such as the introduction of an API to allow you to access the data within your own applications. Initially the data will be served in JSON, but XML shouldn't be far behind and other formats can be requested if you find the need. Some other parts, such as weather cycle access, will be missing from the initial release (it has been used ~4 times in as many months) and the reintroduction will depend on whether it is deemed worthwhile.
Flight Canvas has been sitting ready for about four months now, but I have been waiting until FPD 2.0 is out before that is released as it relies on some of the new , so expect that shortly after the new site is out.
2012 Edit: Well, things happened and the amount of time I can work on this site has been drastically cut to near nil. These sorts of massive delays seem to be the story of life at the moment...but I'll get back to it when I can.
Route generator update - Added January 12, 2011 by lemon As promised, the sidebar route generator has been superseded by a variant of the new route decoder that means it'll use proper navaids and will return the optimum route for a set of navaids along your route.
It is, however, a little bit slower than the old one due to the more complex algorithm used, but I should be able to slowly bring the generation times down with fixes here and there. Basically, the longer the route the longer it'll likely take to build due to the nature of the method used.
This is hopefully the beginning of the phasing out of the old generated plans, although I'm yet to determine to what extent this will continue. The new method is far from perfect, but it's at least a step in the right direction. As a quick example, here is a comparison between a real route and a generated route:
If you find any bugs in your routes, send me an email with a link to the plan in question.
Weather cycle access - Added January 12, 2011 by lemon Building upon my previous post about the weather data, you can now access and download individual cycle files in METAR format at the Weather Cycle Search. When set to X-Plane format, the file can be dropped straight into the X-Plane root directory and then used for the sim weather, so you can have fun experiencing some of the record breaking weather we've had in the past few months.
As with the other data, this is dated back to August 2010, so there isn't a huge amount of data choice available yet.
In terms of how big the weather database is getting (~30MB per day), I can envision needing to come up with a strategy to minimise this. My current idea is to only store the daily average for data older than 30 days, this should hugely reduce the space necessary for the database. I will not be implementing any of this yet though until I better understand how the size increase is likely affect the speed, as currently the 4GB database searches essentially just as fast as it originally did.
Weather data - Added December 24, 2010 by lemon Since late August, the FPD has been dutifully decoding METAR data and has now collected 20,893,596 unique reports at a total of 3.4 GB. What is great about this is it is all completely searchable within milliseconds and provides a great base for weather features. Storing this much data with fast access did throw up some database design challenges, but it appears the current system is now working well after a few hundred (or so it felt like) design iterations. Downloading a single cycle file, decoding it, converting values and storing is all done in a few seconds with about 20,000 METARs per file.
Today, the first access to this data is being enabled in the Airport lookup, with the temperature and dewpoint data initially available. Some work needs to be done on making the transfer more efficient before other data such as pressure, visibility, precipitation and cloud cover is accessible as the Chart API is lagging with this volume of data (Up to a few thousand data points).
With the freezing temperatures that has been experienced in many places recently, it's interesting to see just how far the mercury dropped. To finalise, here are a few fun facts:
Average temperature (30 days): 2.8210 C
Average pressure (30 days): 2996.3742
Average windspeed (30 days): 6.9327 Knots
New route decoder - Added December 23, 2010 by lemon It is with great pleasure that I can introduce to you the newest incarnation of route generation. This is a complete rewrite from the ground up and will now accept a route string input, so it is now more of a 'decoder' than a generator. At it's core, the new route decoder relies on a custom built variation of Dijkstra's algorithm, meaning that even when there are multiple navaids with the same name it will still select the optimum route from potentially thousands.
The decoder also allows for a much finer grain control over the altitudes selected and hints at some of the newer features that are on their way.
Currently, the new decoder is only accessible through the Advanced generation page and the sidebar is therefore still relying on the older system. It is my intention to migrate all generation over to the decoder, meaning the old generator should be scrapped before the year is out. Interpretation of airways is also on the list to add.
Additionally, in an effort to make this new decoder more open to everyone, I have removed the restriction of membership for accessing the advanced generation page.
PDF Export - Added November 13, 2010 by lemon Just completed in an initial form is the new option to download a PDF for any plan that contains a route table with some pretty standard info. Whilst essentially very rudimentary at the moment, this is something that is going to be a base for expansion with more information and eventually graphics also.
Realism - Added September 2, 2010 by lemon After some criticism over the general realism of the flight plans located here, I thought I would explain a few things:
1. The route generator that has now generated ~6000 plans has long been in need of an update, mainly due to the significant lack of any credible realism or interest in the flight plans. However, if you head into the 'Categories' section you will find a range of other plans that have not been auto-generated and generally have a much greater quality, all of these are thanks to the uploads and input of users over the time this site has been running.
2. The Flight Canvas project is now back on track for a release at least to initial testing in a month or two, after a >6 month hiatus from any development and a major rewrite. This will allow you to create the plans exactly how you want and should at least be a start to creating realistic plans online.
So in summary, I am aware of the issues surrounding the quality of the current flight plan generation system and I am looking into ways to address this.
Update on the updates - Added August 22, 2010 by lemon I realised it has been a while since I last posted about any updates here, so I thought it best to fill you in with what has been going on. The noticeable lack of any major visible updates recently has been simply due to a lack of time on my behalf, however there have been a few modifications and tweaks made to improve current features and to pave the way for a few of my planned features.
I don't have anything major today to release, as I seem to have a whole stack of things that are half complete and need to be finished; so hopefully, at some point soon, I should have a whole stack of updates to offer.
Server speed - update - Added June 20, 2010 by lemon After these few days of downtime, in which the FPD moved servers, the speed of the site should now be restored fully. Let me know if you come across any issues.