|Feature : Aeroways
|Describes the fixed physical infrastructure associated with aviation, commercial or not, and space flight, including aerodromes, runways, helipads, and terminal buildings.
This page gives an overview of mapping airports, spaceports, aviation-related and space flight related items in OpenStreetMap. For a detailed list of tags see aeroway=*.
Most aviation activity is centred on aerodromes (or airports); these facilities are tagged with aeroway=*. The best known examples are big airports with multiple runways, terminal buildings with large retail areas, and a lot of (non-aviation) public transport links, but these tags apply just as well to small private grass strips.
How to map
Like most things in OSM, you can start with a node tagged only with aeroway=aerodrome and name=*, and add more detail over time. The most common elements are the aerodrome tag, runways, taxiways, aprons, terminal buildings, and often hangars. These are sometimes tied together with a site relation. More tags below.
|A place from which flight operations take place. Term includes airports, aerodromes, airfields, and landing strips whether international, private, military or otherwise. Other common tags include name=*, iata=*/icao=*, ele=*. An aerodrome may include 0 or more runways, taxiways, hangars, aprons, terminals or helipads. A Heliport is a special type of aerodrome serving only helicopters. Aerodromes can be drawn as a node, area or a multipolygon.
|A heliport is a special type of aerodrome serving only helicopters. Differentiated from an aerodrome by the typical lack of a runway; uses the same tags as aeroway=aerodrome. May include 0 or more helipads, taxiways, hangars, aprons or terminals. Not the same as aeroway=helipad (an area, on an aerodrome or heliport, used for the landing or takeoff of helicopters)
|The area of an aerodrome used for the landing and takeoff of aircraft. ref=* indicates the runway designator (e.g., 03L/21R). Other common tags include surface=* and width=*. Drawn as a way; area mapping is becoming more common but is disrupted; (see discussion here and here). Optional lifecycle tags may apply.
|A rectangular surface beyond the end of a runway prepared or suitable for use in lieu of runway to support an aeroplane, without causing structural damage to the aeroplane, during an aborted take-off. These are also called overrun areas, or blast pads. They are usually marked with yellow chevrons, and are not part of a runway proper, thus the unique tag. Drawn as a way.
|An area used for the landing or takeoff of helicopters. May be found at a heliport, aerodrome, or as a stand-alone facility. Common tags include name=*, ref=* and surface=*. Drawn as a node or area.
|Taxiways are paths connecting various parts of an airport so that aircraft may move between them. Usually labelled alphabetically (e.g. A; or Q1, Q2, Q3); use ref=*. Other common tags include surface=* and width=*. Drawn as a way; like runways, area mapping is disputed (see discussion here and here). Optional lifecycle tags may apply.
Note: Taxiways are by definition not the same thing as taxilanes, which is "the portion of the aircraft parking area used for access between taxiways and aircraft parking positions." A proposal exists for aeroway=taxilane.
|Holding positions are tagged on nodes along a taxiway, or runway to indicate locations at which aircraft may be required to stop, typically in order to remain safely clear of an intersecting runway or taxiway.
|Arresting gears are tagged on nodes along a runway to indicate locations of a mechanical system which rapidly decelerate aircraft in case of an emergency landing.
|Areas were aircraft are parked or are serviced. Usually named either alphabetically (e.g. "Alpha") or by purpose (e.g. "Cargo Apron"). Common tags include name=* and surface=*. May contain parking positions, taxiways, and helipads. Drawn as an area.
|A location (usually on an apron) at which an aircraft may park. Name and location doesn't necessarily correspond with aeroway=gate. Drawn as a node or as a way.
|Location, usually inside a terminal building where passengers go to board/disembark an aircraft. Not the same as aeroway=parking_position. Common tags include ref=*. Drawn as a node.
|Building used for the processing of passengers and cargo. Add an appropriate building=* tag; entrance may be tagged with building=entrance. Common tags include name=*. Often contain shops, other amenities, and links to other public transport systems. Usually associated with one or more gates. Drawn as an area.
|Buildings where aircraft are stored or repaired. Tagged together with building=* - and typical building used as a hanger was also constructed as a hangar so it would be building=hangar. Drawn as an area.
|Areas of grass that aren't part of something else. Combinations of aeroway=*, surface=grass may be more appropriate, but only if the area has a specific function.
|Use airmark=beacon on nodes representing radio navigation aids such as VORs, ILS and NDBs.
|A visual landing aid consisting of a number of lights; shows pilots whether they're approaching a runway at the correct angle. Drawn as a node. See also or .
|Shows wind direction; consists of a (fabric) cone mounted on top of a mast. May be lit (lit=yes). Drawn as a node.
|Many aerodromes also include various forms of parking, mapped as areas tagged with amenity=parking. Multistory car parks should be mapped as areas tagged as amenity=parking and parking=multi-storey. Provide an identifier or name using ref=*.
|Mark internal service roads as ways tagged with highway=service. Include access=private if the public are not able to use them.
|Map any control towers using man_made=tower and service=aircraft_control.
|A spaceport area
|A place such as a farm field, hill slope or similar reasonably flat area where light aircraft can land and take off from. Airstrips often have no permanent supporting infrastructure. Passenger carrying aircraft do not normally use an airstrip unless they are providing joyrides, scenic flights, or are involved in aviation related sports or adventure tourism
|A point where the flow of traffic is impacted by crossing aircraft.
|An installation where the magnetic instruments of an aircraft can be calibrated.
Aerodromes often contain numerous amenities and transport links which can be mapped individually. Guidelines for each of the transport links can be found in their individual pages. Railway stations, subways, taxi ranks, bus stations.
Some amenities often found in and around aerodromes and their terminals can be found below:
- amenity=fuel (which can mark refuelling stations for aircraft as well as for automobiles)
- Websites such as flightaware.com and skyvector.com are often helpful for finding ICAO codes. The official source would be ICAO, of course, but their publications are not freely available. Second good is the national AIP and or VFR flight guide; however these are not published freely by all countries; and even if they are, they are sometimes incomplete. To further confuse the matter, some countries (Ukraine, for example) assign pseudo-ICAO codes.
- IATA codes can be obtained from the official IATA database (search by → location name). There has been a tendency for IATA to assign codes to even very small fields, for no obvious reason; they seem to be cleaning up, as of 2019. Still, they tend to be slow to update, they still have codes assigned for aerodromes that closed years ago. Sometimes, IATA codes are assigned to (high-speed) rail stations too, to allow these to be served by airline ticketing systems; do not get fooled!
- Local codes
- In some countries these have been tagged with local_ref= ; for example the codes assigned by basulm/ffplum to nearly all fields in France, of the form LFddnn, with dd standing for the "departement".
- Originally intended for a unique identifier, believed to be the IATA code by some; it is less and less used.
- Non-Latin locales
- There is a tendency for ICAO and IATA codes to always be written in Latin alphabet; this may cause confusion especially where Cyrillic is used. For a few fields in Russia, the Latin version was given with "icao=" while the Cyrillic equivalent is in "ref=".
Emergency/Military highway used as a runway
Not for aeronautical use!
- Main article: Aviation
The mission-critical nature of aviation means that data you find in OSM is not suitable for aeronautical use. Wiki-derived data is unlikely to pass strict certification requirements (not even for simple recreational flying). OSM data is generally very accurate, but it just might not be accurate enough for aviation.
That said, many will still find such information useful, so don't stop contributing.
Don't map airspace
The regular on-the-ground rule of OSM applies. If it's something tangible that you can point at (like a runway, helipad, or gate) then you can add it. If you can't do that (as with airspace, routes, and aeronautical waypoints) then you should leave it out; (there was a project OpenAviationMap but it seems dead). Similarly, don't upload your flight path traces, or draw air routes on the map: routes vary because of weather, time of day, amount of traffic, serviceability of facilities, and the number of ants in the coffee machine. Besides, they’ll probably annoy other mappers (the routes, and maybe the ants too).
There's no method for mapping airline services between airports. This might be solved by using relations but airline schedules change regularly, so OSM might not be the best place to store such data.
Map as node or as way?
Historically, most aerodromes were mapped as nodes. This has slowly changed into a preference for mapping aerodromes (= "aviation terrains") as ways, given the fact that OSM is first and above all about geographical information. Avoid mapping the airport as both node and way as this will lead to some applications counting two airports!
Traps to avoid
- Do not map outlying areas separately as an aerodrome. This happens for example when landing lights or radio beacons are on terrains separate from the main aerodrome area. It should be sufficient to map them as "fence=yes" or such. If they must really be mapped as part the aerodrome, then a relation is the way to go.
- There is no use in mapping the Aerodrome Reference Point (ARP) as usually published in the AIP; it is not a feature visible on the ground.
- Abandoned (inactive): Proposed features/Aerodrome (unified symbol set)
- aeroway=landing_light - for a light on the approach to the runway.
- There is an abandoned discussion about how the aeroway=* key should also be used for installations catering to model aircraft. See Proposed features/Model's Aerodrome.
- It was suggested () to use the proposed "importance" tag (international/national/regional/...) to distinguish international airports and personal airstrips. At this time there is no consensus on how airports should be classified. See the discussion page.
- aeroway=taxilane - taxilanes are used inside the parking area of planes and differ from taxiways like normal roads to motorways.
- amenity=check_in Point or area for tagging of check in.
- amenity=security_control Point or area for tagging of security control.
- Approved extension of the aeroway key to include space flight related infrastructure.
"aeroway" as a word appears to originate in OSM community and is not actually appearing in standard English.
Though it is neologism fitting well with highway, railway, cycleway, and aerialway.
- Yes, indeed. And I always thought it a fine "game of the word", until I became aware that some people apply this likeness to make aeroways behave, or be mapped, the same as other xxxways. Which is not really the case: highways, railways, waterways &C connect and combine to create a network, and to create routes; which aeroways - at least those that we map - never do. So that I now regret the parallellism, which isn't one really. Jan olieslagers (talk) 18:16, 14 March 2023 (UTC)