Updated on 2016-10-31, viewed 3848 times

Technical Reference - CSV flight recordings

What are .csv flight recordings?

Real file data

CSV (comma-separated values) files are one of the simplest ways to exchange data between applications. This makes it a great format for data coming from a real-life flight-recorder or for anyone without a technical background who wants to display some telemetry in Tacview.

Most flight recording and management tools are usually already able to export their data in .csv file format. Just keep in mind that because of its simplicity, you may not be able to export all possible kind of data.

Tacview natively supports more and more flight recording devices like the Garmin G1000. If you would like Tacview to support additional devices or data, feel free to contact us.

How to use .csv files with Tacview?

Q11: Where can I find an example of a .csv flight recording?

Here is an example of csv file from real-life. Please see below for a detailed list of the fields officially supported by Tacview.

Q12: What do I need to import a .csv file in Tacview?

All you need is – at least – a Home edition of Tacview. Then simply use the file-open command from the main menu to load your file.

Q13: What are the limitations of this file format?

The main limitation is that the data of only one aircraft (or any other battlefield unit) can be stored in each .csv file. For now, it is not possible to describe data for multiple aircraft within one file. However you can merge multiple files coming from different sources to replay them all at once in Tacview using the appropriate command. For example: You can open two .csv flight-recordings coming from two different aircraft, at once in Tacview, to see both aircraft flying together in the same world.

Q14: How should I name my .csv files?

You can specify the following metadata in each .csv file name:

  • The first part is the NATO name of the corresponding aircraft
  • The second – optional – part is the name of the pilot (in parenthesis)
  • The third – optional – part is the color of the aircraft [in brackets]

Here in an example of two typical .csv files you could open together:

  • Mirage 2000C (Fahrenheit) [Green].csv
  • F-14A (Maverick & Goose) [Blue].csv
  • A-4E (Viper) [Red].csv
Q15: Which data fields are supported?

Even if other units may be recognized and supported by Tacview, your data should be always stored in the metric system, and angles expressed in degrees. Here is the list of data (columns headers) supported:

  • Time: Time expressed in either Coordinated Universal UTC YYYY-MM-DDThh:mm:ssZ time format, or the offset in seconds since the beginning of the flight
  • Longitude: Longitude in degrees (negative for west, positive for east)
  • Latitude: Latitude in degrees (negative for south, positive for north)
  • Altitude: ASL altitude in meters
  • Roll (deg): Roll in degrees (clockwise orientation: positive when rolling to the right, negative to the left)
  • Pitch (deg): Pitch in degrees (positive when the aircraft is pointing to the sky, negative when pointing to the ground)
  • Yaw (deg): Orientation in degrees relative to the true north
Q16: Which separators should I use for the columns?

Tacview smartly detects the separators used in your .csv files. However, for best results it is suggested to stick to the following convention:

  • Coma , to separate data
  • Point . for decimal numbers mark
  • Double quotes " surrounding strings containing comas

Here is an example of a properly formatted file:

Time,Longitude,Latitude,Altitude,Roll (deg),Pitch (deg),Yaw (deg)
0.00,-116.6847222,32.72722222,34,-0.11536,-0.14832,295.76
4.00,-116.6847222,32.72722222,34,0.36255,-0.26917,295.25
8.00,-116.685,32.72722222,35,0.42297,-0.2417,297.27

Officially Supported Fields

Here is the list of csv fields officially supported by Tacview. They can be stored in any order and most of them are optional. Only time and position are mandatory. Aside time, any record can be left blank when its value is equal to the previous record value.

For now, only one aircraft can be described per csv file. Support for several aircraft at the same time will be added in a near future.

Field Value
Time UTC time for the current record. Fraction of second are supported.
2011-06-02T05:00:47.13Z
Timestamp Unix time stamp for the current record. Relative to 1970-01-01T00:00:00Z expressed in seconds and fraction of second. This is an alternate way to specify each time record.
1306990847.13
Longitude Object longitude in degrees (positive toward the east).
41.625130740936
Latitude Object latitude in degrees (positive toward the north).
41.591041652197
Altitude Object altitude in meters MSL (above sea level, also known as ASL in some countries).
2000.14
Roll Roll in degrees (Positive when tilting the aircraft to turn to the right).
-4.2
Pitch Pitch in degrees (positive when climbing).
7.10001
Yaw Yaw (heading) in degrees relative to the true north.
312.2
AOA Angle of attack
4.6
TAS True airspeed (m/s)
157.7
CAS Calibrated airspeed (m/s)
139.1
IAS Indicated airspeed (m/s)
137.3
Mach Mach number
0.5