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Greetings Mission Planners,

A new version of Excel2FV (dated 21 August 2005) is posted at http://www.mission-planning.com.  The biggest change is that Excel2FV now has the ability to export a FalconView drawing file in C2PC's .mgc file format.  Obviously you now can also import an Excel spreadsheet into a FalconView drawing and immediately re-export it for C2PC.  Now that I've got the code to export in .mgc file format it should be relatively easy to add export for Local Point and Manual CHUM files, however I'll wait to see if there's any demand first.  There are also a few other minor fixes, as well as a renaming of some of the tool's tabs to better reflect their current use.  

Did you know that NGA maintains a complete database of all their known vertical obstructions - not just the ones you see on your charts?  The database is called the Digital Vertical Obstruction File (DVOF).  The database is primarily for NGA's internal use and isn't available as a "standard" product (i.e. you can't get it from the Defense Logistics Agency), however you can download the data using NGA's "WebDVOF" portal on both SIPRNET and JWICS.  Go to NGA's homepage at http://www.nga.smil.mil on SIPR or http://www.nga.ic.gov on JWICS and look for the alphabetical link for DVOF.  Once there you can download the data as a ShapeFile then open it up for display in FalconView.  You'll be able to see a current obstruction database on top of any FalconView map or image.  Even better, SOF has funded the addition of a Vertical Obstruction Overlay for FalconView 4.0.  Once NGA's PKI website comes on line you'll be able to download the Vertical Obstruction data on the NIPRNET as well.

The comment period on NGA's removal of data from the public internet has come to an end.  No word on the resolution yet.  One thing's for sure, NGA's planning to remove itself from Bethesda Maryland and Reston Virginia and relocate to a new "campus" on Fort Belvoir.  The move was announced as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission report. 

Mission Planning Tip:  DAFIF Edition 8

If you're on automatic distribution for DAFIF you likely noticed a change a few months ago as the newest DAFIF edition made it's appearance:

Forget about what data the disc contains and you'll realize the biggest news is that the data is coming to you on DVD!  After years of waiting we're finally getting data on a disc that contains seven times as much space as a CD.  Oh for the day when CIB and CADRG follow suit and we can start cutting down the number of pieces of plastic piled up on the corners of our desks.  If there's anyone out there that doesn't want all their NGA data on DVD please let me know.

The DAFIF DVD label should clue you in that there's a lot more data than just a single edition of DAFIF.  The DVD contains two versions of DAFIF (Edition 7 and 8) and the MIDAFIF and AVDAFIF that used to come on a separate CD.  When you insert the DVD you'll see all the data that's available:

In addition to all that "DAFIF stuff", the DVD contains the Adobe Acrobat (pdf) versions of the NGA planning books:

Terminal Approach procedures:

and Enroute Charts:

Each ICAO cycle brings more approaches and charts to the DVD.  Unfortunately a lot of civilian FAA procedures aren't on the DVD.  That issue is being worked.  In the meantime you'll find all the FAA approaches on line at http://www.naco.faa.gov/digital_tpp.asp

So if all the data is now on a single DVD how come there's still three discs in the DAFIF "multipack"?  The Edition 7 data is on the DVD but the Services haven't agreed to get rid of the existing DAFIF 7 CD.  The DAFIF 6 CD is being maintained for the time being since many systems still need  it.  In the jewel case the DVD has effectively replaced the MIDAFIF (Map Info DAFIF) and AVDAFIF (ArcView DAFIF).  When DAFIF Edition 6 disappears at the end of 2006 the set will be reduced to two discs and when Edition 7 goes away DAFIF will shrink to a single DVD.  Good riddance to all those oversize plastic cases...

So what else is on the DVD that you might find useful?  How about the ICAO regions?

Or the world's time zones?

Next time I'll talk more about these ShapeFiles that you'll find in the DVD's AVDAFIF folder, and discuss how to display them as semi-standard overlays in FalconView.  After that we'll start into PFPS 3.3.1.

Paul