Just Soar

U.S. Airspace Files from FAA NFD

By Ted "2NO" Wagner

Current NFD version: Volume , Edition 20


This web page provides subscribed glider pilots the ability to create Tim Newport-Peace formatted airspace files (*.sua), OpenAir™ format airspace files (*.txt), and Google Earth files (*.kml) from the current FAA National Flight Database (NFD), for use in soaring application software such as WinPilot™, Glide Nav II™, XCSoar, SeeYou, etc.

You, the pilot, after creating a login, specify your geographical area of interest, either by providing a Cambridge or SeeYou formatted turnpoint file, or specific top/left/bottom/right coordinates, as well as the classes and types of airspace you want included. A ZIP archive is then created immediately for your download, containing one file in each format. Simply keep the ones you need and discard the rest.

Screen Shots

The screen shot collection shows data from Just Soar in use in popular programs like Google Earth, SeeYou, XCSoar, and GNII. To view higher resolution screen shots, click an image or link.

Just Soar data in XCSoar on PDA
United States North Texas over DFW Phoenix Class B
over the Estrella Mountains
viewed from the southwest
Task Area for the
Arizona Soaring Association

SeeYou (PC)

Google Earth
SeeYou (PC)

Google Earth
Google Earth XCSoar GNII

Google Earth
SeeYou (PC) SeeYou Mobile


Until recently, United States airspace data was freely available via the U.S. Flight Information Files (USFIF). The USFIF was the source for most, if not all, of the U.S. airspace files we use in the soaring community. The FAA's National Flight Database, a subscription-only service, provides an alternative that is updated more regularly; a new version of the is released by the FAA every 28 days.

This site was created so that soaring pilots could get airspace files based on the most current NFD.

Okay, so why do I have to pay for it?

It is certainly regrettable that we now have to pay for something we previously got for free (before 2007). The difference is that the FAA requires NFD subscribers (that's me) to notify all subscribers' customers (that's you) if/when there is an important or timely update to the data, such as the correction of an error. Your subscription data are used to satisfy this requirement, and your subscription fee is used to cover the costs of the NFD itself and of maintaining this customer database.

Warnings, Gotchas, and Not-the-Usual-Yada-Yada

  • The FAA NFD does not contain communication frequencies or active times for the described airspaces. (However, the FAA has announced that comm frequency records will be added sometime in 2008. [Spring 2009 Update: the FAA has canceled this upgrade.])
  • If there are errors in the NFD, those errors will propagate to your airspace files. If you encounter errors, please forward them to me so I can forward them to the FAA's National Aeronautical Charting Office (NACO).
  • The NFD does not include temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) or Air Traffic Control Assigned Areas (ATCAAs, which overlie MOAs above FL180).
  • The airspace files created by this site conform to the specifications for the Tim Newport-Peace format described here, and the OpenAir™ format described here.
  • The airspace files created by this site are not warranted in any way to be loadable or properly used by your navigation/application software. They are only warranted to adhere as closely as possible to the standards referenced above .

So what does the NFD have?

The NFD implements United States airspace in ARINC specification 424-15, sections 4.1.18 and 4.1.25.

Section 4.1.18 of the ARINC standard describes "Restrictive Airspace Records", which include Alert, Caution, Danger, MOA, Prohibited, Restricted, Training, and Warning restrictive types. You will have control over which of these are included in your airspace file(s).

Section 4.1.25 describes "Controlled Airspace", which includes classes B, C, and D only. Again, the records themselves provide boundary data only, and you will be able to choose which ones you want included.

A single known exception to the above, of note to pilots in the southwest, is the Grand Canyon no-fly zone. In spring of 2008, NACO added this unique Class E airspace to the NFD with the type designation 'U'. This type designation is changed from 'U' (Unspecified/unknown) to 'R' (Restricted) in JustSoar.com's airspace files.

What do I get for my subscription?

For a period of one year, you will be able to log in, create, and download airspace files as many times as you like, for any region of the U.S.

In addition to the trio of airspace files (.sua, .txt, .kml), you will also receive:

  • A Cambridge (.dat) format turnpoint file with the latest FAA NASR airports data as turnpoints, inside your area of interest.
  • A SeeYou (.cup) format turnpoint file of the same.
  • If you submitted a Cambridge format turnpoint file to specify your area of interest, the Cambridge file you get back will have the same points, plus those airports in the FAA database that are more than a mile from any of your turnpoints. The SeeYou turnpoint file you get will have *all* of the airports in the designated area.
  • If you submitted a SeeYou format turnpoint file to specify your area of interest, the SeeYou file you get back will have the same points, plus those airports in the FAA database that are more than a mile from any of your turnpoints. The Cambridge (.dat) turnpoint file you get will have *all* of the airports in the designated area.

How do I sign up?

Click the "Sign Me Up" link on the menu bar at the top of this screen. Note that the link will not appear if you are already logged in ... but, then again, if you are already logged in you don't need to sign up.