The Flight Simulator Navigation Data Economy

    Flight Simulation has quite the economy surrounding it. I’m not particularly fond of the navigation data sector of that economy. If you want the latest navigation data, you must subscribe or buy it from Aerosoft or Navigraph.  But those companies that sell it to you must buy the raw data from Jeppesen or Lufthansa Systems. That data is delivered as ARINC424 format files or in a more reasonable tailored database format. That full navigation data is very expensive. An individual cannot afford it. I have seen quotes upwards of $10,000 USD. I do not know if that's for a single month’s data or a year’s worth. However, through Jeppesen, if you’re an actual pilot with a navigation computer that you must keep up to date, you can buy navigation data compiled specifically for that aircraft’s navigation computer at a substantially more reasonable, attainable price. But Jeppesen and Lufthansa Systems will not sell you compiled data for your home computer simulator. That’s where Aerosoft and Navigraph come in as middlemen. They buy the raw data and reprocess it into a myriad of formats suitable for flight simulation and 3rd party simulated aircraft. The two companies then resell that data to simmers at around $10 USD per month or per cycle. Once a simmer is introduced to the concept of navigation data cycles, many with disposable income forever chase the latest navigation data.

    You see, updated navigation data is released around once a month, called a cycle, from a number of aviation authorities. Jeppesen and Lufthansa Systems compiles all of that into proprietary databases. Typically changes are not dramatic between cycles, though they can seem so if there are new or updated approaches or navigation GPS fixes. If you export a flight plan from flight simulator planner software using a cycle that is newer or older than what is in your simulator, you’ll get a software freakout. Or if you manually enter a plan into the simulator based on a different navigation cycle, you’ll find the simulator’s navigation data lacks the the desired approaches and fixes. Worse, some 3rd party aircraft use their own navigation database files and those are often not the same cycle as the simulator’s default navigation data.  You cannot simply import the simulator’s navdata into that aircraft’s system. You have to turn to Navigraph or Aerosoft to synchronize the data. Not to miss sales opportunities, Navigraph will happily provide several year old data for free distribution with aircraft and flight planner software. Of course that data will not match with the simulator’s data. Thus starts a cycle of chasing navigation data because people naturally dislike when things go sideways and need the latest navdata synchronized everywhere all of the time.

    I used to subscribe to monthly navigation data. But now I’ve come to realize it is simply not necessary to chase reality like that. Frankly, I have enough monthly subscriptions. But for most of them, the services are used daily or supports independent work. Navigation data only benefits me a couple times a week, if that. For my flights, navigation data almost never changes. If it does, it’s not very noticeable or not noticeable at all. Just switch to available approaches or fixes and be done with it. It’s a home simulator, after all, not a check flight.

    So it is reasonably simple, and takes barely any time, to use the flight simulator’s default older navigation cycle data (from Navigraph, of course!). If I’m using FlightAware to look at real-world filed flight plans, and if there’s an incompatibility with an approach or a navigation fix with the simulator’s older data, it takes just a minute to rework a flight plan in the open source Little NavMap software. And taking that a bit further, you can do whatever the heck you want in a simulator. Just fly and save some bucks for other more important things like saving democracy or supporting your favorite creators (including simulated aircraft designers).

    The Capay Unit refuge was bustling today. Here’s a Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar and a Black headed Grosbeak. Also saw Orioles, Black Phoebes, possibly an inflight juvenile Bald Eagle, Osprey, Ash Throated Flycatcher, Lesser Gold Finches & Red Tailed Hawks #SacramentoWildlifeRefuge Image of a black caterpillar with orange spots and spikes, crawling on the ground covered with dried leaves and small branches.

    A serene riverside scene with greenery and a dry tree in the foreground. A large beaked bird with black with white spots and yellow breast feathers perches on a branch of the tree. In the background, three people are sitting on the opposite riverbank. The river flows calmly between the bird and people.

    Sonos Ace headphones are not for me since all I ever wanted from such a thing was to transfer my music seamlessly between speakers and headphones. And then there’s the Sonos app mess. It’ll be a while before I can trust Sonos enough to resume buying their hardware. WTFs all around.

    Windows 11 Thoughts

    I have Windows 11 on my work PC now.

    What does not work for me:

    1. File Explorer's simplified right-click context menu where useful file interaction & application extensions, like Box, are hidden under a More button (UGH). Fix by pressing Shift when right clicking. I’m not yet sure if I like the copy/paste buttons. Guess Microsoft wants to turn Windows into Teams and make finding necessary features really difficult.
    2. Taskbar is glued to the bottom of the screen -- I need it on the left! I have all the display width and not much display height. I don’t like hiding the taskbar.
    3. Audio system is garbage. I mute system audio but Teams keeps making noise. AirPod sound output is garbled. The mixer interface is a mess and I got applications really mixed up with audio output.

    Always end on a good note! So a few things one thing works for me:

    1. Named virtual desktops & persistence across reboots.

    It is super cool that Flame Skimmer dragonflies are spending time in our backyard. This one was stationed on that stick nearly all day. And then there’s the much more active one that you can see as an orangish blur flying behind the stick. #Fujifilm A close-up of an orange dragonfly perched on a vertical tree branch, with another blurred dragonfly in the background. The background is out of focus, featuring green and brown hues.

    NO Pedestrians Beyond This Point: Black Phoebe enforced #Birds #Fujifilm #SacramentoWildlifeRefuge

    A Black Phoebe is perched at the top right corner of a road sign is posted among greenery indicating NO PEDESTRIANS BEYOND THIS POINT, with a natural, lush background. A dirt road peaks into view.

    Sometimes unintentional photos are the best. Today at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge south of Willows:A rustic scene is captured with tall grass in the foreground, a field of grass and reeds in the middle, and a small brick barn partially obscured by trees and flora under a clear sky.

    One of very many Western Blue Birds at Lynch Canyon Open Space Park, Northern California. Lots of Blue Bird nest boxes there! A bluebird perched on an orange wooden post in a green grassy field.

    On our hike last Saturday, a few drifting swarms of bugs were along the trail. Probably mosquitoes but I didn’t dare walk through them to find out 📷 #MBAprA swarm of small insects flying just above the ground with blurred people walking in the background.

    Poor critter lost its tail! This was also the first lizard I’ve seen this year so it has had a rough start after hibernation 📷#MBApr A lizard without a tail on a wooden fence.

    I’ve had a lot of gardening to do with sharp implements so finally got my TDAP booster. I’m ready for a sore arm.

    I think this is the “Big Al” Allosaurus skeleton at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT. Nice spine (backbones)! 📷 #MBApr A dinosaur skeleton from above, spine in prominent view, on display in a museum exhibit with informational displays in the background.

    I love the layers of light in this photo of me taking photos in the desert near Death Valley 📷 #MBApr A gravel road leading over a hill with a person kneeling to take photos in the distance, mountain ranges layered in the background, and a clear sky with radial sunbeams through dust above.

    Mid-March 2024 at the Donner Summit rest area (east-bound). I suppose once the building was dug out, ice formed in the alcove as heat warmed the snow’s bottom (ceiling in this case). Pretty neat. 📷 #MBApr An alcove filled with a large accumulation of snow and ice, with a metallic overhang above and stone pillars on the sides. A trash receptacle sits partially visible in the foreground to the left.

    We’re planting only one row this year. Just tomatoes, various peppers, basil, and an overwintered thyme. All prepped, just need to plant! #gardening A sunlit garden with a pile of branches, green shrubs, flowering white clover, a drip irrigation hose, gravel paths, and small orange flags marking a planting locations.

    A slightly early birthday present to me: a Sonos Move 2. Sounds very good! It’ll be great keeping me from the odd anxiety of silence and listening to food chewing 😆 📷 #MBApr A Sonos Move 2 smart speaker on a media center. To the right, there’s a crystal with an etched Dresden Frauenkirche inside.

    Gotta have a bit of the flâneur spirit to partake in street photography. Or you’d miss a random dog-dog encounter in San Francisco. 📷#MBApr Two small dogs in costumes on leashes, with a person standing nearby. One dog is in a yellow outfit with eyes like goggles, the other in a red plaid jacket. They appear to be on a city sidewalk outside a souvenir shop.

    A gorgeous Barrel Cactus from Joshua Tree National Park 📷 #MBApr A colorful cactus with pink spines and yellow flowers amidst rocky terrain.

    In X-Plane 12, I finally managed to get the 747-200 (modeled by Felis) up to cruise with only minor passenger discomfort. Had a little trouble with the auto-throttle. I’m still loving the Yawman Arrow controller #XPlane12 #macOS #YawmanArrow #FlightSimulator A United 747-200 airplane flying at night with the United Airlines livery visible on its tail and fuselage. The aircraft’s navigation lights are illuminated. An aircraft about 1000 ft below is approaching.

    I installed my first Sharkbite plumbing fixture and it’s kinda magic how easy & low stress it was. Anyway, the ridiculous hosebib setup is why no one should let me do plumbing. Listen, I learned a lot from this low-stakes project! 📷 #MBApr Outdoor plumbing setup with a brass faucet with bright blue valve attached to a vertical pipe, green tree tape securing it to a fence post, and various hoses at the base.

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