Tuesday, December 3, 2019

User Created Airports

If you've created airports on MyFlightbook, well, first, "thank-you" - you're helping MyFlightbook have a very thorough (and living!) airport database!

But you may notice a few changes regarding your airports recently (early December 2019).
I've finally gone in and built a tool that lets me review user-created airports that might be duplicates of existing airports. It's always a challenge as airports are closed, new airports are opened (or assigned re-used codes), or airports move from one location to another. But I also want to avoid things like "JFKIA" (an airport somebody created to be "JFK International Airport") being coincident with KJFK and getting picked up as the nearest airport by the GPS.

So I've built a tool that lets me review all user-created airports (or seaports/heliports) that might be coincident with an existing airport (seaport/heliport) and decide what to do. I have several (not-mutually-exclusive) choices in these cases:
  • If both the new and the existing airport are legitimate (E.g., "EGLL" and "LHR" are ICAO and IATA, respectively, for London Heathrow), then I will actually "absorb" the airport. I.e., I will remove your name as the creator of the airport, and it will be treated as a native airport. It will no longer show up as one of your airports.  Thank-you for your contribution!!!
  • I will typically mark one of the two codes (usually the 4-letter ICAO code), in the above scenario, as being "preferred". That way, if you're somewhere at the airport and use the app to read the closest airport, it will be equally close to multiple codes; this allows me to bias towards the code that is least likely to have ambiguity (which is why it's typically ICAO). Or, if one of the codes is an obsolete code, it can use the newer code.
  • I can also coalesce the precise latitude/longitude between the two airports, so that multiple codes are equally close.  This helps to avoid the mobile apps picking up EGLL on one side of Heathrow airport and LHR on the other.
  • d) Finally - and this is relatively rare, but I've done it with a few dozen airports - I can delete your airports. Usually this is due to a typo (e.g., I've seen codes that mix up a capital-O with a zero), but it can also be due to a made-up code when there is a legitimate ICAO/IATA code that applies. If I delete your airport, the tool will automatically map any flights that use the old code to instead use the new code. This doesn't violate any signed flights (route is excluded from the change detection), but it obviously does mean some minor changes to your logbook.
The mobile apps can't update their airport databases over the net; instead, every few months when I'm updating the mobile apps I'll update the airport database as well, so it can take a few months before these changes will show on the mobile apps. But all of the changes are live on the website today (and ongoing).

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