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I want to create a flight planning software for GA. Just as a prototype for the time being. The performance data and info about the planes should be stored in various databases.

When I go through flight manuals like the CESSNA 150, I get a lot of tables which I could convert into a database, but where do I get data which created these charts e.g. the range profiles?

Is this data available somewhere? Or are there databases available to be used?

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    $\begingroup$ I think you may be under the impression that these charts were computer generated, when in reality they were done with pencil, paper, and slide rules back in the 60's and 70's. This data may be available electronically for newer aircraft (post 80's or 90's), but you would have to contact the manufacturer for each individual aircraft. You are probably better off trying to find out how they calculated the curves instead of just digitizing graphs. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Oct 14 '16 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ I did not think about that.... you are right. But how are tools online calculate the endurance/performance for a specific flight plan entered by the user then? $\endgroup$
    – sesc360
    Oct 14 '16 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer Many of the charts are created from flight testing, with data points from actual observed data (not calculations from a formula), or a combination of observed data and extrapolated data. I believe that software providers digitize the actual graphs and use the data "from the AFM" to perform their calculations. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Oct 14 '16 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ Hm.. digitizing the graphs.. I think that can be a challenge. $\endgroup$
    – sesc360
    Oct 14 '16 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger Yes, no doubt about that, what I'm saying is that the aircraft back then didn't have sophisticated recording devices that provided terabytes of data on performance, it was probably a guy shouting out data points while somebody copied them down, later connected via manual drafting and filling in the gaps with interpolation and extrapolation. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Oct 14 '16 at 20:30
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As others have stated, the data certainly exists but the manufacturers are under no obligation to provide anything more than what's in the manual.

That said, the performance equations are straightforward and with some effort you could build the tables. What you are proposing exists for most air transport aircraft for their Flight Management Systems.

As a reference, you might check out Getting to Grips with Aircraft Performance. It's written by Airbus but provides a very good explanation including much of the math.

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I have never seen a digital copy of this data but that does not mean it does not exist. However you should note that strictly speaking this data is unique to every air frame from a legal standpoint. According to FAR §23.1581 every aircraft must come with this documentation and once issued the documentation is specific to the air frame (not the general type). Generally speaking these pages are never changed (only the W&B ever practically changes). Things like performance charts may also change depending on the engine installed in a given air frame or other modifications made. The data could be valid in a general sense but not in the specific sense. There are digital apps out there for things like W&B (which foreflight now includes) but generally require you to enter the specific information for your given aircraft.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree, it is individual per plane.. but how do apps like foreflight work or others? Of course you have individual data to be entered, but all the information about performance, endurance etc. How is this being used for calculations within the software? YOu don't enter this dat manually, right? $\endgroup$
    – sesc360
    Oct 14 '16 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ All of this data is entered manually per aircraft in Foreflight when you set up a new plane. You can check out Page 192 of the instruction manual for details. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Oct 14 '16 at 19:30

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