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Greetings Mission Planners,

NGA recently implemented new procedures for DAFIF's FAA/Host Nation ID field.  You'll find details here.  If DAFIF's ICAO isn't four characters long (i.e. the airfield doesn't have an ICAO assigned) then the FAA/Host Nation ID will be populated with a four character field.  Airfields with three character FAA/Host Nation IDs (i.e. a normal FAA ID) will have the ICAO region letter used as a prefix.  Here's a few examples:

  • Camp Blanding AAF has an FAA ID of "2CB" and doesn't have an ICAO identifier assigned.  Its DAFIF FAA ID has been changed to "K2CB". (formerly would have been "2CB")
  • Chicago O'Hare International Airport has an FAA ID of "ORD" and an ICAO identifier of "KORD".  The DAFIF FAA ID  remains "ORD" because O'Hare has a four character ICAO ID.

If an airport doesn't have a four character ICAO and doesn't have a valid Host Nation ID then a pseudo Airfield ID will be created using the two character ICAO Region/Country code combined with a unique numeric or alphanumeric.  Nam Phong airfield in Thailand has a DAFIF ICAO ID of "VT" and now has a generated Host Nation ID of "VT85".  

Of course there's one big gotcha in all of this.  No ATC agency will recognize "K2CB" or "VT85" as valid locations.  If you put 'em on your flight plan it'll be kicked back.  Center won't know what you're talking about because their computer won't recognize the ID's.  Replacing valid FAA ID's with made up 4 character ID's (even if based on the FAA ID) isn't the most elegant solution.

I overlooked an earlier, interesting article about NGA found at http://www.washingtontechnology.com/news/19_4/emerging-tech/23578-1.html.  One particularly disturbing quote was:

Until recently, geospatial data was transmitted in large files and assembled by the end user on powerful workstations. In the new paradigm, processing geospatial data will take place on back-end systems, and it will be made available through Web browsers, said Chris Tucker, chief executive officer of Ionic Enterprise Inc. and former head strategist at In-Q-Tel, the Central Intelligence Agency's private venture fund. (plus 2 points for the use of the phrase "In the new paradigm".  Minus 5 points for using "geospatial" twice without using "intelligence" at least once - ed.)

  I wonder if Mr. Tucker knows what its like to try and view geospatial-intelligence (+3) data using a web browser at Bagram, Baghdad or Balad - let alone how it'll work in a single seat aircraft (heck, any airplane), in a tank taking fire or in a submerged submarine.  On the plus side, he doesn't work for NGA!

Mission Planning Tip: Copying PFPS Defaults Using Excel2FV

Last week I discussed PFPS preferences and where they're stored.  Most settings are stored in the registry section that's specific to the Windows logon.  That's not a problem when your logon is "Pilot/Pilot", but it is if you're on a "real" network.  Fortunately there's an easy way to move many of the preferences from machine to machine and from user to user.

Excel2FV Mark II and Excel2FV Classic both have the ability to export/import your user preferences from the Windows registry.  The screenshots below are from the Mark II version, but there's no functional difference (in this area) between the two tools.  The export/import buttons are located on the "Repair" tab along with several other useful tools:

To export your preferences click on the Export User Preferences button (no mystery there).  By default the preference profile (.pp) file is saved in the \PFPS\Download folder, but you can browse and save it anywhere.  Putting the file in a network folder, on a CD or on a thumb drive are all good ways to ensure you restore your preferences on any machine.

To Import/Restore your preferences click on the Import User Preferences button.  The Open dialog will default to the \PFPS\Download directory but you can browse to any path to find the .pp file you want to restore:

When you click Open the registry settings saved in the .pp file will be restored, but in order to minimize the Oops factor the current registry settings will be saved before being overwritten .  Excel2FV's summary report confirms the (now) former settings were backed up and the selected settings were restored:

The .pp files each take up about 65kb so don't worry about overloading your hard drive.  You can setup preference profile files for different mission types and switch between them before you start PFPS.

Nuts and Bolts:  The export/import profile tools are launching Windows Regedit tool to do the grunt work of reading and writing the registry entries.  If your PC has been locked down by your Administrator so much that you can't normally run Regedit then you won't be able to export/import settings using Excel2FV.  

If you're sufficiently bored you can edit the .pp files with any text editor - like Notepad.  Here's a typical section:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\PFPS\falconview\CoordinateFormat]
"PrimaryFormat"="LAT_LON"
"PrimaryLatLonFormat"="DEGREES MINUTES"
"DefaultDisplay"="PRIMARY"
"PrimaryDatum"="WGS84"
"SecondaryFormat"="MILGRID"
"SecondaryLatLonFormat"="DEGREES MINUTES"
"SecondaryDatum"="WGS84"

Not surprisingly, this section deals with the Coordinate Format that FalconView uses.  If you're really motivated (and brave) you can edit the .pp files.  For example you might edit the list of Airways and MTR's that FalconView displays.  If you import the edited settings and discover you did an Oops you can restore the previous settings using the backup .pp file.

Excel2FV has some other registry tricks up it's sleeve.  In some rare cases you'll turn on an overlay file (drawing, Shapefile, route etc.) that causes FalconView to crash or lock up.  Unfortunately each time you restart FalconView it tries to reopen the bad file - Catch 22.  Excel2FV's Reset FalconView Overlays button edits the registry to delete the list of files that FalconView tries to reopen on startup.  After pressing the button you'll get confirmation that the overlay list has been reset:

Don't forget to delete the "bad" file!  If you aren't sure which file is bad then reopen one at a time until you replicate the problem.  

In some cases you can also lock FalconView up by adding a Map Data Path that includes bad data.  In other cases you may end up generating coverage for an extremely large path across an extremely slow network.  FalconView isn't locked up, but the coverage generation will take so long that you might as well be.  Pressing the Reset Map Data Paths will delete all Map Data Paths.  On startup FalconView will restore the default Map Data Path (\pfps\falcon\data\) and a path to the first CD/DVD drive.  You'll have to add other paths individually.

Paul