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Airport Complexity Score


We no longer have a file library and only a download capacity for airport diagram bundles.  Therefore this complexity score is no longer visible to anyone except Airport Diagram subscribers, who still get it for individual airports with their daily e-mails.


If you don't use the airport diagrams from the file library, there's no reason to read this thread.


I've developed a "Complexity Score" statistic to give users the ability to judge at a glance how an airport stacks up against others. The score will simply be a number and it will be derived by the standard below. The scoring criteria are subjective and un-scientific, but I've been running it against the new airports produced for a week or so and it appears to do a relatively good job of sorting the airports.  Note that the score is intended to reflect both visual and operational complexity, so an airport with a large number of radio frequencies or published approaches could conceivably score higher than one that is visually similar.


Beginning tomorrow, 4/27/15, I will begin to include a new statistic on the download page for all new and updated airport diagrams and will also begin to slowly backfit the same data into into the 3,900+ existing diagrams. The latter project will likely take some considerable period of time.


I will include a link to this thread in the posting code of each new and edited airport diagram so users can easily refer to the scoring criteria.




Runways: 2 points for each paved runway; 1 point for each un-paved runway. Closed runways receive 1 point less than what would be their normal score so a closed, paved runway gets 1 point and a closed un-paved runway gets 0 points. Asphalt, concrete, tarmac, macadam, bituminous, planks and steel count as paved. The list of un-paved surfaces includes clay, coral; dirt; grass; gravel; oil treated; sand; shale; turf; water; snow; ice.


Helipads: Any number = 1 point; none = 0 points


Ramps: Any number of ramps and aprons = 1 point; none = 0 points


Taxiways: Any number of taxiways, labeled or un-labeled = 1 point; none = 0 points


Fuel: Any number of MS fuel pumps = 1 point; none = 0 points


Tower: Towered = 1 point; non-towered = 0 points


Lighted: If field is lighted, 1 point, including VASI-only lighting; un-lighted gets 0 points.


Frequencies: Points equal to the number of published radio frequencies listed in FSX.


ILS: Each ILS = 1; a category II or III ILS = 2 points; a Localizer-only approach = 0 points.


Navaids: If any NDB, LOM, LMM, DME, VOR or VOR/DME lies on the airport or 20 NM or less from the ARP (Airport Reference Point), 1 point; no navaids within 20 NM = 0 points.


Approaches: Points equal to the number of published approaches (available in the FSX GPS) listed in FSX.


Buildings: If any within airport fence, or if un-fenced, within the airport "flatten" area, 1 point; no buildings, 0 points. Control tower and MS Fuel pump do not count as buildings.


Custom Buildings: If any within airport fence, or if un-fenced, within the airport "flatten" area, 1 point; no custom buildings, 0 points. Oil/fuel tanks count as custom buildings.


Multi-plate: If the airport diagram required 2 or more plates, 1 point; 1 plate only, 0 points.

= = = = = = = = = =


Questions to allardjd@earthlink.net

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KDFW is 92.


@ Bri, send me a list. I'm going to be backfitting all of them so it doesn't matter much which ones I do first.


It grew out of the e-mail I send to subscribers every day. It just got to be a pain trying to write a few words describing each airport and keeping it fresh and interesting. This looked like an easier way to do while still giving them some idea what they were getting. They get, as you know, the full table, not just the score. I've been doing that with them for about a week now and no one is griping about it.



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I must admit to having not opened your emails for about three weeks John, so I've got some updating of my own to do when I get the chance to sit and wade through your emails.


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Great addition to the diagrams John :thum: 


adding even more work to the diagrams, I have to wonder if you are punishing yourself for something that happened in your past, call me if you want to talk about it. :P:D:)

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...if you are punishing yourself for something that happened in your past, call me if you want to talk about it.



No, sir.  I have the cleanest of consciences.  I fall into bed way too late every night, exhausted from a long day of doing all kinds of things I WANT to do and wanting to do even more, but just run out of gas.  I sleep like a baby.  


To be honest, this Complexity Score project is a substitute for trying to write a description of most of the airports for the subscriber's e-mail that goes out almost every night.  It was getting increasingly difficult to find anything original and entertaining to say about most of them.  This gives the subscribers everything they might want to know about the airport without having to open the diagram and study it.  The process goes pretty fast and isn't much trouble at all.  Coming up with the criteria was the hardest part but that's done.  Back-fitting all the old data will take a while, but I can do it at my own pace. 


Glad you like it though...



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Pretty much, that's it. My acceptance criteria for diagramming an airport is going to yield a minimum score of 2. The only exceptions to that would be a request by a user or a bare-bones field included in a rally or another on-line event. Either of those could result in me diagramming an airport which gets a score of 1, but those would be few and far between.


I routinely pass up grass strips that have no buildings, fuel, lights, navaids, radio frequencies, aprons, taxiways or approaches. It takes at least one of those to get in the door if there's only a single un-paved runway. There are a lot of them in FSX but I don't do them, so for all practical purposes a 2 is the lowest we'll normally see. You probably saw above that KDFW came in at 92. I haven't done it yet but I suspect Edwards AFB might beat that one.


Note that I considered operational complexity as well as physical complexity; radio freqeuncies, ILSs (particularly Cat. IIs and IIIs) and published approaches account for that and will run up the score of a relatively modest looking field that may not have a very large score without them. I take those as indicators of operational complexity.



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  • 3 weeks later...

I did about a hundred more today. The biggest one was KIND, Indianapolis, with a 65, edging out Sydney by one point for third place on the list so far.


KDCA, Washington-Reagan is a 49; KGRI, Grand Island, Nebraska, broke into the top 20 with a score of 41, barely, but that won't stand. The 41s are on the cusp now and will inevitably get bumped as I process more airports.



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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Top 20 with 40% scored

New top 20 entries - EHAM Amsterdam (65); KTPA Tampa FL (56)

I've deleted some of the earlier posts in this thread since that info is superseded by this...

KORD: 99 Chicago IL (O'Hare)
KDFW: 92 Dallas TX
KDTW: 83 Detroit MI (Metro)
KJFK: 78 New York NY (JFK)
KMCO: 76 Orlando FL
KSLC: 73 Salt Lake City UT
EHAM: 65 Amsterdam, Netherlands
KIND: 64 Indianapolis IN
YSSY: 63 Sydney, Australia
NZCH: 56 Christchurch, New Zealand
KTPA: 56 Tampa FL
KHOU: 56 Houston TX
KOKC: 55 Oklahoma City OK
KJAX: 55 Jacksonville FL
KDAY: 54 Dayton OH
KLAS: 54 Las Vegas NV
KMSN: 53 Madison WI
KFLL: 53 Ft Lauderdale FL
KCMH: 51 Columbus OH
KRDU: 49 Raleigh-Durham NC
KDCA: 49 Washington DC (Reagan National)
PANC: 49 Anchorage AK

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Here's the latest top 20, with a little over 47% scored.


New top 20 entries - KIAH Houston (79); Philadelphia (66); Orlando FL (FS9)(63); Richmond VA (54)

  • KORD: 99  O'Hare - Chicago IL
  • KDFW: 92  Dallas TX
  • KDTW: 83  Metro - Detroit MI
  • KIAH: 79  Bush - Houston TX
  • KJFK: 78  Kennedy - New York NY
  • KMCO: 76  Orlando FL (FSX)
  • KSLC: 73  Salt Lake City UT
  • KPHL: 66  Philadelphia PA
  • EHAM: 65  Schiphol - Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • KIND: 64  Indianapolis IN
  • KMCO: 63  Orlando FL (FS9)
  • YSSY: 63  Sydney, Australia
  • KTPA: 56  Tampa FL
  • NZCH: 56  Christchurch, New Zealand
  • KHOU: 56  Houston TX
  • KOKC: 55  Oklahoma City OK
  • KJAX: 55  Jacksonville FL
  • KDAY: 54  Dayton OH
  • KLAS: 54  Las Vegas NV
  • KRIC: 54  Richmond VA
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  • 2 months later...

Here's another update of the top 20 with around 68% scored...

  • KORD: 99 - O'Hare - Chicago IL
  • KDFW: 92 - Dallas TX
  • KDTW: 83 - Metro - Detroit MI
  • KIAH: 79 - Bush - Houston TX
  • KJFK: 78 - Kennedy - New York NY
  • KMCO: 76 - Orlando FL (FSX)
  • KSLC: 73 - Salt Lake City UT
  • CYYZ: 68 - Pearson - Toronto, Ontario - Canada
  • KPHL: 66 - Philadelphia PA
  • KSTL: 65 - Lambert - St. Louis MO
  • KMSP: 65 - Minneapolis-St. Paul MN
  • EHAM: 65 - Schipol - Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • KMKE: 64 - Mitchell - Milwaukee WI
  • KIND: 64 - Indianapolis IN
  • YSSY: 63 - Sydney, Australia
  • KMCO: 63 - Orlando FL(FS9)
  • KCLE: 63 - Hopkins - Cleveland OH
  • KBNA: 63 - Nashville TN
  • KBOS: 62 - Logan - Boston MA
  • KPHX: 61 - Phoenix AZ
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O'Hare is hanging in there.




It may end up being the top dog.  I expected Edwards AFB to top it but have looked at that one in detail (without diagramming it yet) and there are too few comm frequencies and published approaches for it to make the top of the list, even though it has many, many runways.  The heavy hitters in Paris and London haven't been scored yet and those might come in pretty high but I really was surprised EHAM in Amsterdam wasn't higher than it turned out.  Time will tell.


Scoring them is the worst kind of drudgery and I'm only doing about fifteen a day, plus any new or updated diagrams I produce, so it's going to take a while to work through all of them.



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  • 9 months later...

I've finally finished the back-fitting chore on these, the worst kind of drudgery.   It's not bad scoring airports as I'm diagramming them, one at a time but plowing through thousands that were not scored when I bit this off was a tough row to hoe.


I intend to post a list of some kind in the file library that users can download, sorted by ICAO and by score, so either can be used to find an item of interest.  I'll probably update it monthly as I do with the country bundles.   I'll also be posting some stats, but for now, the median complexity of 5,065 airports scored is 14.  There are as many below as above that value.


Here are the top 20.  I won't be updating this again unless new work or updates cause it to change.  I've done most of the world's "majors" so I don't expect this to change very much or very often.  There may be a few lurking out there yet to be diagrammed that will force their way into this rarified part of the list but not many, and maybe none at all.


  • KIND: 64
  • KMKE: 64
  • EHAM: 65
  • KMSP: 65
  • KSTL: 65
  • KPHL: 66
  • CYYZ: 68
  • KPIT: 68
  • KLAX: 70
  • KMEM: 72
  • KSLC: 73
  • LFPG: 73
  • KATL: 76
  • KMCO: 76
  • KJFK: 78
  • KIAH: 79
  • KDTW: 83
  • KDFW: 92
  • KDEN: 95
  • KORD: 99
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Thanks. Wonder if your "value" for the airports is similar to AH's. Have you built bases among a range of 'your scores' ...I'll split the cost to do that test if you want.


Pick a half dozen or so for me to build at in Cali/Ore/Wash side of the country and I'll be happy to time how long it takes to build a base at each.

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