So I have been using QGIS on and off for as long as I can remember, maybe more than 13 years, at must admit that at the beginning when I started using it I wasn’t really impressed with the features against the leader vendor in my area which is ESRI. I use ESRI products pretty regularly at both my last job and my current one from the past 10 years. I got involved a little more in QGIS about 5 years ago trying to check it out because we wanted to migrate some of our aviation related stuff to a centralised database from where to make some other automated things like ENR tables and so forth, but at the end we just recently bought an AIM solution which has ESRI as the charting component.
Anyway, usually one of the things when I travel to provide instruction in the AIM domain or PANS OPS is the recurrent complain about people about how expensive the tools are to be able to make charts. QGIS has just made a huge new release QGIS 3 which is very powerful and feature rich, I can say in some areas it is now ahead of the paid stuff but can it be used for Aeronautical Charting? I remembered back in the day when I tried it was very difficult so I didn’t continue on that avenue.
One of the cool things of QGIS is that you can visualise AIXM 5.1 data out of the box, of course it lacks some of the core parts of a dedicated aviation viewer but it makes more than a decent job to see things reading from the cryptic XML/GML
Latvia AIXM data rendered in QGIS 3.4
So back to the idea on using QGIS, while adding AIXM data to check it doing the Data Validation and Verification process using an independent tool and because I am using my personal laptop so I don’t always have remote access to my work computer back at the office I started playing around with some data and checking how it would look after I have completed some proposed PBN procedure design to provide for validation of the conceptual design before flight inspection.
So my head starting thinking, what if I could just recreate an aeronautical chart with QGIS, so that is where I am right now. Didn’t start with an ENR chart because that wouldn’t be a challenge, I could probably due that without too many problems rather quickly
So after a quick 1 hr of setting things up, I got a very promising looking chart. Everything marked in red in the marginal notes is data driven text, so it means I don’t have to type it and it comes directly from the attributes stores in the aeronautical features. Not bad for a free open source software. Doesn’t kill to have my chops for aeronautical charting either.
Will continue to work on this more until I get a result I like, but this actually looks very similar to what we are able to do with ESRI products and even a bit better as it was way easier to configure the data driven things.
Next steps will be to work on the labeling of the plan view
If you need some of the icons used for aeronautical features visit my github repository aeronautical_charting