Transfer Garmin aviation waypoints in bulk

Helipaddy does not have the feature any more to export landing sites in bulk. However, we did do some testing trying to get waypoint data moved around between the various Garmin and SkyDemon systems. To benefit from this article, you need to be familiar with the data file formats GPX and CSV.

In brief:

To :To :To :To :
From :Garmin Aera 660SkyDemonGarmin Pilot AppGarmin GTN650/GTN750
SkyDemoncompatible GPX format but cannot be done without fiddling about with SD cardsEasy as GPX attachment via emailconvert to CSV and tweakconvert to CSV. Edit each site on GTN to set the airport flag on.
Aera 660copy GPX file and tweakcompatible GPX format but cannot be done without fiddling about with SD cardsconvert to CSV and tweakconvert to CSV. Edit each site on GTN to set the airport flag on.
Garmin Pilot AppNO EXPORT –
propriety format
propriety format
Share waypoints within the app and then send the file to another Pilot userNO EXPORT –
propriety format

Firstly, exporting…


This is easy as the output format is GPX. In SkyDemon, view the waypoints and then choose Tools and Email. Put your own email in and send. Now that you have the data in GPX format, you are in good shape to get this data into your avionics via Garmin Pilot. See importing below.

GTN650 and GTN750

Garmin Pilot – NOT POSSIBLE

This should be easier, Garmin! There is actually an export function, but view the saved file and it is proprietary and that’s where the process stops (see below)

Aera 660

It is possibly unlikely you would use the Aera as your source of landing sites and waypoints (more likely to be an App). However, if you do use it as your master database, then the data is a GPX file on the SD card.

Secondly, importing..

Aera 660

It is quite useful having landing sites stored in the Aera 660 because the flight logbook function is pretty useful when filling in your post-flight logs (amazingly, the GTN systems don’t provide easy to access flight logs). Without this every flight will just show nearest airports.

The Aera 660 takes GPX format. If you have data in another format such as CSV, for example, the conversion tools below. Copy the GPX file to the Aera’s card (via USB storage mode or just pop the card out and use a laptop). When you restart the Aera, the waypoints will be there.

GTN650 and GTN750

What we have found frustrating is that the GTN’s CSV import format is not the same as either the Garmin Pilot or the Garmin Aera formats. Furthermore, data has to be removed and waypoint names have to be shortened to 6 letters/numbers. And, which is a real pain, NONE of the waypoints will be treated as landing sites (or airports). With the GTN, your waypoint has to be tagged as Airport for the ETA etc. to work. And the only way to tag it is in the GTN itself and edit each one individually which could take hours. We are not aware of a workaround, Garmin!

Transferring landing sites to the aircraft is the holy grail because this makes flight plans much easier to enter, especially if you use the helicopter’s autopilot. Note:

  • Column A is the Waypoint Name (waypoint name can be up to six alpha numeric characters). The letters in the waypoint name and comment need to be upper case letters.
  • Column B is the Waypoint Comment (waypoint comment can be up to 25
    alpha numeric characters)
  • Column C is the Latitude with a (-) for southern latitudes
  • Column D is the Longitude with (-) for western longitudes
  • The format for the latitude and longitude must be in decimal degrees.
  • Latitude can be up to two digits to the left of the decimal and up to nine to the right of the decimal.
  • Longitude can be up to three digits to the left of the decimal and up to eight to the right of the decimal.
  • If a waypoint to be imported is located within 0.001 degree (latitude and longitude) of an existing user waypoint in the GTN, the existing waypoint and name will be reused.

Save the newly created file as a comma-separated value (CSV) file and then change the name of the file to “user.wpt”. 

Place the SD card into the GTN while the GTN is off and then power on the GTN. From the Home page of the GTN touch the Waypoint Info > Import Waypoints icons. Waypoint import will occur in the background.

Remember that the GTN treats them as waypoints not airports or landing sites. This means that if you use one of them as a final destination in a flight plan, then the GTN will not sure you the ETA. Stupid but a product of old tech / fixed-wing-itis. The only fix is to go and edit every single one from within the GTN itself and click the AIRPORT button.

Garmin Pilot

Garmin Pilot takes CSV format for imports (see conversion tool below). Unfortunately, although Garmin Pilot can talk to your helicopter via the GTN650 or GTN750, it doesn’t transfer the waypoints, so transferred flight plans won’t have helpful names and won’t be tagged as Airport (in other words the Terrain alerts will go off as you come in to land).

The expected format for the CSV file is:

  • Column 1 – User waypoint ID (e.g., MYWAYPOINT)
  • Column 2 – Latitude in decimal (e.g., 39.5 for 39.5° N)
  • Column 3 – Longitude (e.g., -95.75 for 95.75° W)

To reproduce the spreadsheet format, in Garmin Pilot, select “Home”, “Settings”, then “User Content.” Select “Get Template Spreadsheet” at the bottom. Save this file somewhere that you can view on a computer. Now you can update this spreadsheet with the waypoints.

To import your waypoints to Garmin Pilot, you may then either:

  • E-mail the updated file to your iPad/iPhone as an attachment, and open the attachment with your e-mail app and select Copy to Pilot.
  • AirDrop the updated file from your Mac to your iPad/iPhone, press Accept, and select Pilot.

The User Content page in Garmin Pilot should now show the waypoints and duplicates are ignored.

Switching between CSV and GPX or

To tidy up GPX files which are proving tricky, use