What is the Digital Aeronautical Flight Information File?
Aeronautical Flight Information File (or DAFIF) is a set of
files that contain data on airports, navaids, waypoints, special use
airspace and other facts relevant to flying in the entire world. This
data is provided by the US military, through the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
(NGA), and is primarily developed for the benefit of military
aeronautical operations, but was made available to the general
Except for the United States, which is also covered by data provided by
the FAA, it is usually the ONLY comprehensive digital data available for
pilots. Other countries either don't provide digital data at all, or they
do it through a proprietary web interface or in non-reusable formats (like
PDF files of scans of paper documents). Even within the US, there is data
that is available in the DAFIF which is not in the FAA ATA-100 data CD. For
instance, the navaid.com database generators use the DAFIF data to find
ICAO identifiers for airports in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and other
places where there 3 letter FAA id is not enough data to generate the ICAO
It also has data on airspace boundaries and airways that is missing from
the FAA data.
While GPS and Electronic Flight Bag manufacturers can afford to license
expensive proprietary data from Jeppesen to cover their areas of interest,
for the free or nearly-free software developer, and the thousands of
pilots who rely on our programs, DAFIF is the only choice.
Why is our access to DAFIF
According to the explanation
on the NGA Web site, the data is being withdrawn from public
circulation because "increased numbers of foreign source providers are
claiming intellectual property rights or are forewarning NGA that they
intend to copyright their source." According to one private communication
I received from the DAFIF program manager, they are doing this "because
the Australian AIP producers are suing Jeppesen for copyright
infringement", and rather than waiting to see if the AIP producers win
their case and then turn their attention to DAFIF, they are being
pro-active, or looking at it another way, they are taking the easy way
under threat gone?
What is going to happen to DAFIF data?
The NGA is going to restrict access to their data so that only legitimate
US State and Federal government agencies and their contractors may access
the data. The rest of us will be out in the cold, and will not be able to
get updated data any longer.
I do not know yet if NGA intends to tell people using old versions of
DAFIF data that they will have to stop using it. I consider it a distinct
What can I do to preserve access to this invaluable resource?
Nothing. It's on its last legs, and will be gone within the year.
The NGA has just released their decision, and according to their
press release, "the electronic distribution of DAFIF over the World
Wide Web (www) and public sale of NGA FLIP outside US airspace will cease
in October 2006". We're screwed.
I have set up a Wiki to
discuss the design of a collaborative project to allow we, the users of
the data, to maintain it in the future. Please feel free to register and
give us your input.