How to Flatten FlightRadar24 KML files

FlightRadar24.com through their paid subscription options, allows customers to download KML files of recent flights. These files contain flight data such as position, speed and altitude.

Whilst the altitude information of the flight path is neat to view within Google Earth, the information is presented as a series of individual path segments. Should you want to flatten and merge these KML path or track segments, then this is a method of accomplishing this:

  1. Sign in to your FlightRadar24 account, locate the flight you want and download the relevant flights KML file
  2. Flatten_FR24_KML_02Flatten_FR24_KML_01
  3. Open this KML file in Google Earth to verify that it contains the right flight data. You’ll notice that it contains information on the path taken as well as data to allow you to play an animation of the flight (from a position perspective)
  4. Open QGIS, a Free and Open Source Geographic Information System application, drag the KML file into QGIS and select the row with the Layer ID  of 1 and the name Trail and click OK.
  5. Flatten_FR24_KML_03
  6. Right click the KML layer that has just been added, select Save As, change the Format to ESRI Shapefile, click Browse to choose where to save this temporary file, ensure that Add saved file to map is ticked and click OK.
  7. Flatten_FR24_KML_04
  8. Untick the original KML layer you added.
  9. Right click the new temporary ESRI Shapefile layer that has been added and click Toggle Editing, which will make the path appear with a series of red X’s
  10. Using the menu select View -> Select -> Select Features, then draw a box covering all of the path segments and red X’s which selects all of these points.
  11. Using the menu select Edit -> Merge Selected Features, then click OK on the Merge Feature Attributes window that appears.
  12. Right click the temporary ESRI Shapefile layer that has been added and click Toggle Editing, and then click Save  on the Stop editing window that appears.
  13. Right click the temporary ESRI Shapefile layer, select Save As, change the Format to Keyhole Markup Language [KML], click Browse to choose where to save this new flattened and merged path / track segments file, ensure that Add saved file to map is ticked and click OK.
  14. Flatten_FR24_KML_05
  15. The merged KML file will now be displayed within QGIS. You can untick the temporary Shapefile layer that you have just been using.
  16. Open this new merged KML file in Google Earth to view the results – You should have a Path segment covering the entire flight path.
    • Flatten_FR24_KML_06Note: In some cases there may be several Path segments displayed in the resulting KML file. It is possible that some small segments have been duplicated. Selecting / deselecting each part should assist in determining whether you can delete these additional Path segments. Some may be a single point and hard to see / find.
  17. Once verified in Google Earth, you can close QGIS and Google Earth.

The resulting file will contain a single Path being the length of the flight path, having no Name or Description entered and at ground level for the entire path.

Thanks to User travisgriggs on this Reddit post for the information in performing this task.

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