Airport Maps in Aviation

*Updated: 3/1/2024

Aerodrome maps, or more colloquially airport maps, are a virtually indispensable feature of the modern cockpit. Airport maps are delivered through a variety of platforms, including cockpit displays, handheld devices, in-flight entertainment, and flight simulators. They combine information formerly found on individual static airport, taxi, and parking stand charts, providing a single integrated view that enhances pilot situational awareness leading to improved safety and operational efficiency.

Airport Mapping Database (AMDB)

Regardless of how the airport map is presented, underneath the surface is an airport mapping database (AMDB) that describes the layout of the airport and the geometry of its runways, taxiways, buildings, and other features, as well as areas of interest around airports. There are several interrelated international standards that define the structure and formatting of AMDBs. These include the aligned Radio Technical Commission for Aircraft (RTCA) DO-272B standard and the European Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE) ED-99B standard which define the minimum requirements for aerodrome mapping data. The Aeronautical Radio, Incorporated (ARINC) specification 816 builds on DO-272B/ED-99B to define an interchange format that meets the requirements of embedded avionics systems.

The adoption of these data and interchange standards has enabled the emergence of a rich ecosystem of mapping data sets and mapping solutions to meet a multitude of needs. AMDB providers can distinguish their standards-compliant data products along a number of lines, including the precision of the data, the frequency with which the database is refreshed, and the number of airports and other aerodrome facilities covered by the data. 

Applications of Airport Maps

Airport mapping has broad application across the aviation industry. In addition to pilots and flight crew, controllers, runway operations, facilities managers, emergency response, and security teams can all benefit from custom applications that make mapping data available, frequently on hardened, mobile devices.

The most common AMDB applications are, however, found on-board the aircraft either embedded in portable electronic flight bag devices or in installed dedicated or multi-function displays. These devices are frequently categorized by whether they provide a static or moving perspective, and whether the mapping function is standalone or integrated with other functionality such as dynamic and synthetic vision systems. Cockpit applications include surface guidance and navigation, chart information, synthetic vision, and low-visibility operation.

Benefits of Onboard AMDB Solutions

Airport mapping devices in the cockpit give pilots and flight crew immediate, dynamic access to these critical areas:

  • Improved situational awareness in all weather conditions and times of day.
  • Full awareness of aircraft position relative to hotspots and other aircraft.
  • Reduced risk of incursions or collisions with other traffic or airport features.
  • Reduced pilot workload and stress during ground operations.
  • Optimized taxi operations with fewer unassigned stops.

Need aviation mapping solutions? Contact us today to learn more about our Precision Navigation and Mapping solutions for commercial, military, or future mobility operations.

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