Pablo's Mission Planning Website
Greetings Mission Planners,
NGA has posted the EChum files for March. You can download them at http://22.214.171.124/products/webchum/InitQueryFrame.cfm.
Ever find yourself in a position where you needed to share NGA data with Allied Forces and didn't know who you needed to talk to? The good news is you'll find very clear guidance from NGA - but only on the SIPRNET. Go to http://www.nga.smil.mil/information/disclosure_release_index.html and you'll find a complete list of who, where, when, what and how. You'll even find a nice table at http://www.nga.mil/mil/cda/article2/0,2421,3104_116913_117196,00.html. Remember these links are on the SIPRNET - if you click on them from this email it won't work...
The MPSSF has begun distribution of the "PAD" or Protected Area Database. The PAD is an updated and more complete version of the Managed Area Database (MAD) that's included in PFPS 3.2. To quote Willie Kramer...
MP Tip: FalconView Environmental Overlay
And with that lead in... FalconView 3.2 was the first Mission Planning Program shipped with an Environmental Overlay. Fliers are required to avoid sensitive areas IAW FAA Advisory Circular 91-36C, Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Flight Near Noise Sensitive Areas. A note on all sectionals provides further details about what the FAA Expects you to avoid by 2,000 ft:
Of course this is a minimum list and a pilot is expected to exercise the good judgment to avoid other sensitive areas. Failure to avoid sensitive areas can result in administrative action against an individual and loss of training areas for the DoD. The Air National Guard (OK, Mike Bartgis and Roy Rathbun) realized we were asking our crews to avoid these areas without an easy way to know where they were. Unfortunately it's difficult to find a single source for these areas. Finally they found the Managed Area Database (MAD). MAD isn't perfect - to quote from the MAD website:
Translated this means that the data detail is only about what you'd see on a JNC chart, isn't being maintained and isn't guaranteed to be complete - still it was free and better than nothin'. The Environmental Areas are turned on from the FalconView Overlay Menu:
The Environmental Areas are displayed on the map like any other overlay. The screenshot below shows the Grand Canyon National Park:
The Overlay Options lets you control what Environmental Areas will be displayed:
The 2,000 Ft Sensitive Areas include the ones dictated by the FAA. Potential Sensitive Areas include Wind and Scenic Rivers, National Military Parks etc. Other State and Federal Lands include Military Reservations, National/State Forests etc. For details of what MAD categories were included in which area filter go to the FalconView help for the Environmental Overlay Options and click on the area type you're interested in.
For those who are interested, the MAD is actually a Shapefile. The ANG's funding of the Environmental Overlay allowed FalconView to add a general Shapefile display capability.
So since you've got the MAD data why would you need to get the PAD data? As described above, the MAD data has limitations, as the following screenshots of the MAD data on Sectionals show:
Golden Spike National Historic Site is only colored as a "Sensitive Area" (National Historic Sites aren't included on the 2,000 ft list), but is depicted on the sectional. ORP (Ordinary, Reasonable, Prudent) Man would avoid it, but you'll note the MAD depiction is either incomplete, insufficiently detailed or out of date. If you depend on the MAD data you might try to fly between two separate parts of the Site - but the Sectional shows that they're part of a larger area.
The Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge is coded as a 2,000 ft area, but the depiction in the MAD includes only one set of islands, leaving off protected islands extending up the coast.
The depiction of these sensitive areas East of Salt Lake City is complete, but insufficiently detailed. While there's a small gap between sensitive areas (along I-80 and the American Fork) it is much smaller than what is depicted in the MAD data. (FYI, I generated more noise complaints doing a Low Level around here than anywhere else I ever flew)
The PAD addresses the shortfalls found in the MAD database. Most of the data was compiled from 1:100K scale maps and the database is much more complete - it includes Alaska for example. The data is more current (2001 vs. 1996) and is produced by an agency who is maintaining it (PAD is on its second edition). When you install the PAD data it works in FalconView just like the current MAD data does - just better.
So why is PAD only available to the Air Force? Although the PAD is produced by a nonprofit agency, it isn't a "nonexpense" agency and they reasonably expect some funds to compensate them for the expense of gathering and producing a the most complete database available. The Air National Guard and AF/XOIRY decided to purchase a license for the data and decided to purchase it for Air Force units only. Actually it probably would be illegal for one Service to purchase something for a different service - intent of Congress, Budget Directive as Law etc. If you don't have the PAD you should continue to compare what's in the MAD with other data sources. This can be as simple as comparing the data with a paper sectional and creating a FalconView Drawing (.drw) file containing the missing sensitive areas in your area. It isn't wise to "buzz the borders" depicted using MAD or PAD; you can't be sure that the data sources used were 100% accurate and it wouldn't be prudent (The "ORP Man" thing again), just as it wouldn't be prudent to fly a half mile from "The Box" during Red Flag. Tends to bring unwanted attention and paperwork.