The OpenAero Manual

  1. General
  2. Creating sequences
  3. Automated handling of Free sequence figures
  4. Creating a Free Known sequence
  5. The Free Unknown designer
  6. Opening, Saving and Printing sequences
  7. The Figure Grid system for Unknown and Free Unknown operations
  8. Importing OpenAero files into ACRO
  9. Settings


OpenAero is aerobatic sequence design software available from that runs inside your web browser. This makes it available on practically any computer, tablet and even Smartphone. For the best experience the Google Chrome web browser is recommended, and currently Mozilla Firefox also works well. Other web browsers may offer sufficient W3C standards compatibility to function correctly, but not all. It is useful to set the full-screen browser mode (usually by pressing F11 on your keyboard) to have the maximum screen space available when using OpenAero.

The latest version of the software is always presented when you are online, and will be installed automatically. Once you have visted your current version of the software will also be available to you when you are offline. For small tablets and Smartphones it will help to click View ... Mobile version and the layout will be adjusted to fit the narrower screen format.

OpenAero should update automatically to the latest version whenever you are online and open OpenAero. However, if you suspect you do not have the latest version you can check this through About in the Help menu. If this shows you have an outdated version and you are using on Google Chrome (but not as an app) it may help to clear the appCache. Enter chrome://appcache-internals in your address bar and Remove all entries that contain OpenAero.

Only on Chrome OS (e.g. Chromebooks) a Chrome App for desktop is also available. This provides:

  • Improved file saving
  • Adding OpenAero to your desktop to start without opening Chrome browser
It can be installed through the Tools menu at any time. After installing it can be launched from a blank Chrome tab. By right-clicking there you will have the option to add a link to your Desktop and/or Start Menu.

Even though no other software besides OpenAero is necessary to produce complete and valid aerobatic sequences, the ready availability of an official and current copy of the relevant power or glider Aresti catalog is recommended for checking.

This manual is intended for users of OpenAero. If you are interested in development of additions to OpenAero, including (National) rules, please refer to the developers wiki page.

Creating sequences

Aerobatic sequences can be created within OpenAero in either of two ways:

  • By selecting and editing figures with the Figure Editor
  • By writing the figures in code in the text line above the sequence

The descriptions here refer to using the Figure Editor. For the correct codes when using the text line above the sequence area please refer to OpenAero language Help.

Beginning a sequence

Always start by filling in the Sequence Info panel. The Rules, Category and Program information will be used for determining sequence validity. If actual rule checking is active for the chosen combination, will be shown next to Program. Otherwise it will show . In the latter case sequences are only checked for basic Aresti compliance.

In the Sequence menu you can choose to start the sequence down-wind or cross-box. This can always be changed at a later stage.

Adding a figure

Go to the Figure editor tab and click on the Click to add figure box. A figure chooser will appear from which you can choose a group (for example 1.2 Two Lines) and then a specific base figure. The Aresti number column and row are indicated at the top and left side of the figure chooser.
At any point in a figure where the attitude must change from erect to inverted (or the reverse) a half-roll is shown and will be incorporated when the figure is inserted; this is easily changed for an alternate roll using the controls. If there are existing figures select the option to tell OpenAero where the new figure should be placed. Figures that are eligible to be placed in the current position (i.e. with the correct entry and/or exit attitude) are marked by a green line around the top and left sides of their images.

When there are Sequence rules active that prohibit the use of certain base figures, those figures will not be shown. It is possible to show these figures (with a red border) by unselecting Hide illegal figs.

When a figure is added or selected it becomes active and is drawn in magenta in the sequence area. The Form-B table is always updated to display all the Aresti element codes and K-factors. Base figures and elements that are not 'legal' according to the rules in effect are shown in that table with zero K.

The current figure is also shown in the figure editing area where you can:

  • Switch X-axis or Y-axis exit direction (for some figures)
  • Delete the figure
  • Change the Y-axis direction
  • Zoom the figure larger or smaller
  • Move the figure to a different position - with no line, or with a straight or curved dotted connecting line
  • Add / delete / change rolls, and:
    • Flip their left / right orientation to avoid location over other elements
    • Flip the roll fraction number (e.g. 3/4)
    • Add a comment (will be placed after fraction number where applicable)
  • Extend or shorten the entry and exit lines, or the lengths before and after the rolls
  • Click the figure-start and -end symbols to reverse the current erect / inverted setting
  • Set the figure as the start of a new sub-sequence for easier sequence composition
  • For Free Unknown sequences designate the figure with letters A to J, or as a connecting figure
  • Add / delete / change figure comments

Some of these options are not available for figures that have a Free Unknown letter to avoid changing Free Unknown figures.

Another way to edit the figure shape is to use the handles (blue circles) that show when selecting the figure. These allow you to change the length of all lines. In the top-right of the figure a magnifier shows which can be used to scale the entire figure.
It is possible to disable this way of figure editing through Options in the Tools menu.

When you have finished editing the figure click in an adjacent space to deactivate it, then you can add a new figure at the end of the sequence or optionally at the beginning. If a figure is highlighted when you click to add a figure then it will be opened again for editing.

Figure comments

The comment section can be used to enter information about the figure. Plain text can be used but there is also a variety of useful special codes:

  • [ : bold-line the comment box on Form B & C
  • [[ : red-line the comment box on Form B & C
  • \ : new line
  • ^ : rotate the comment box 90 degrees, e.g. for "^BREAK"
  • NED : use three letter IOC country code in capitals to add the country's flag to Grid view

Automated handling of Free and Compulsory / Free Unknown sequence figures

When on the Sequence Info panel a combination of Class : Rules : Category : Program is set that requires special handling to meet CIVA regulations, the software will provide the following automated handling:

Glider Advanced and Unlimited

  • Free sequences: OpenAero will resolve an excess sequence K total of up to 3 in accordance with The original figure-K is shown in brackets below the adjusted value.
  • Unknown Compulsory sequences: OpenAero will reset up to 2 figures that you designate as 'Free Unknown Link' to 10K total.

Power and Glider Advanced and Unlimited

  • Free Unknown sequences: you should identify each submitted figure with the officially designated alpha character (power 'A' to 'J', glider 'A' to G'). Linking figures should be identified as 'Free Unknown Link', and OpenAero will reset them to 24K total (power) or 10K total (glider).

Selecting and moving a figure

To select a figure, click on it or select it in the sequence text line. The figure is now magenta and can be edited with the figure editor. For repositioning it can be dragged anywhere by holding down the mouse button after clicking the figure. Note: this can not be done for figure 1.

After moving a figure it's possible to change the curved line to a straight line by clicking the Straight line button in the Figure editor. It's also possible to remove the line, but for clarity only for horizontal moves. This can be done by clicking the Move figure forward button.

TIP : A poorly laid-out sequence that is difficult to follow can be a real problem for judges - time spent creating an easily understood flow of figures can be a good way to help improve your marks. Make sure to use the straight and curved dotted lines to show how your figures follow each other.

Using the OpenAero 'Queue'

The queue system provides a way to copy selected figures to a temporary list, from which they may conveniently be selected for insertion at other positions in the sequence. This enables the figures in any sequence to be re-ordered to improve the sequence design, though you must take care of erect or inverted entry conditions and continue / reverse / change axis effects. The queue and its figures can also be saved to disk for later re-use - when re-opened they are accessible through the "* Figure Queue" item at the top of the figure / family selection drop-list.

The background of queue figures will be green when the figure is already present in the sequence. It will be red if the figure is used multiple times.

All figures in a sequence can be added to the queue at once by clicking Add all to queue. All figures can be removed from the queue with Clear queue.

Keeping the figures separate

When figures are overlapping they can be dragged to a new position. It is also possible to use Separate figures from the Sequence menu to separate all figures from each other.

OpenAero can position new and updated figures clear of previous and subsequent figures automatically. To activate this, go to General Settings and select the option Automatically position new/changed figures clear of others.

To remove all current sequence formatting choose Clear positioning from the Sequence menu.

Checking sequences against the selected Rules

Choose Sequence ... Check sequence and your sequence will be checked against the rules that you have selected in the Sequence Info setup. Note that any construction errors are shown in the Alerts box below the figure editor. If you print the sequence you can opt to add the Sequence Check Result to the bottom of your Form B, C, R or L.

Several sequences can be checked simultaneously by choosing and/or dragging their files to the box shown when you click menu item Tools ... Check multiple seq.

When creating a Free Unknown sequence, it is possible to use the original submitted figures to check if they are correct in your sequence. To do this, click Reference sequence in the Sequence info tab. A dialog will show where you can enter a sequence string for a reference sequence. This string can for example be copied from the main sequence text area when you have the original submitted figures opened in OpenAero.

For the Free Known, the reference sequence will automatically be loaded when activating the Free Known rules.

Floating Point correction

In some sequence types, a Floating Point correction is allowed. This means that one or more K points may be deducted from the figures with the highest K factors if this is necessary to reduce total sequence K to the maximum allowed.

The Floating Point correction is automatically applied when corresponding rules are set in the Sequence Info.

Creating a Free Known sequence

As of 2016, CIVA has replaced the Known and Free sequences with the Free Known. The following method is recommended for creating Free Known sequences with OpenAero:
  • Open the correct sequence figures from the Demo menu. The figures will be shown in a grid layout
  • Choose "Add all to queue" from the "Queue" menu to put these figures in the Queue
  • Switch to "Form B" from the "View" menu and start designing your sequence. The required figures are available at all times from the Queue

The Free Unknown designer

This is the most efficient way to design a Free Unknown sequence from a list of submitted Unknown figures. It can be found under the Tools menu. Because of required screen size it is not available in the mobile layout.

Getting started

Open a sequence file containing the Free Unknown figures from the File menu, or by clicking a link holding the sequence that has been provided to you. If the sequence is correctly formatted (correct rules, all figure letters assigned, no other figures) OpenAero should automatically start the Free Unknown designer.
Otherwise, you can start it from the Tools menu.
If OpenAero detects it is just a figures file you will start with an empty sequence. Otherwise, the current sequence will be shown.

Sequence layout

The purpose of the designer is to quickly create a sequence. For this reason, layout is schematic and fully automated. There are no options for changing this.
Multiple subsequences can be used, joined and copied in the design environment.
In the sequences, submitted figures are marked with a green border and additional figures with a blue border.

When the sequence is complete, click the Finalize sequence & exit Free Unknown Designer button to change the layout of the sequence.

Adding and changing figures in a subsequence

All submitted Free Unknown figures are visible on the lefthand Figures tab. They can be dragged and dropped into a subsequence and will be placed before the figure over which they are dropped. To create a new subsequence, drag the figure to New / copy subsequence.
Figures that are used exactly once in any of the subsequences are marked by a green border. Figures that are used multiple times (or more than the maximum amount of Additionals for the Additional figure) are marked orange.

To remove a figure, click the cross in the righthand upper corner.

Additional figures can be added by dropping the 'Additional' block. After this has been done the linking figure can be changed after selecting it by clicking.
The submitted figures also have some options that can be changed when selected.

Manipulating subsequences

The entry direction of each subsequence can be chosen by selecting the first figure of it and setting Sub sequence entry direction.
Subsequences can be dragged as a whole into another subsequence. The whole subsequence will then be inserted before the figure over which it is dragged. Dragging a subsequence to New /copy subsequence will create a copy of the subsequence.

Finalizing the sequence

When the sequence is complete, with all submitted figures and required Additionals, it can be finalized by clicking Finalize sequence & exit Free Unknown Designer. Any errors will be reported. You will then be returned to the regular sequence editor where you can adjust layout.

Opening, Saving and Printing sequences

Opening sequences

To open an existing sequence, choose Open sequence in the File menu and navigate to locate and open the required sequence file. Sequence files can end in ".seq" or ".png". You can also drag a sequence file from your system's file browser to the OpenAero window to open it.
Alternatively, by using Open sequence link, you can open a sequence link provided to you by email or other means.

Saving sequences

To save the current sequence as a "filename.seq" file, choose Save sequence in the File menu. Depending on how you have set your browser, your computer will ask for a file name to save the sequence; in Chrome be sure to use the '≡' Customize and control button in the header area, then click the Settings item so that you can tick "Ask where to save each file before downloading" on the Advanced Settings page. Always be sure to give the sequence a file name ending in ".seq" - these files can subsequently be opened only by OpenAero and not by OLAN.

To create a link that holds your complete sequence, choose Save as link in the File menu. It is useful to right-click here and choose "Copy Link Address" to transfer this link to your computer's clipboard.

Saving or Printing sequences

To save or print some or all of the sequence forms, choose Print/save forms in the File menu, and select the appropriate options. To save the forms as a PDF file in Windows you will need some software that does this for you, such as PDFcreator or PDF reDirect v2. In a Mac OSX or Linux machine you can simply choose to 'print to PDF'.

You can also save one or multiple forms as as image. Two formats are available:

  • PNG : For saving images that can be viewed by any computer, tablet or smartphone. Make sure to save these images in a large enough resolution (set at Saving PNG or SVG image).
  • SVG : For images that will always stay sharp, even when viewed with large magnification. These images can be opened in most browsers and many other applications - see for further advice.

iPad/iPhone: Only Save PNG image is available. In Safari, you can then tap the button to save or print the image.

Printing multiple sequences

Multiple sequences can be printed without opening each sequence separately. This option can be found in the Tools menu.
This is especially usefull for contest organisers.

Saving a sequence's figures as separate images

To save the current sequence figures as separate images, choose Save figs separate in the File menu. You will then get the option to save a ZIP file that contains every figure of your sequence as a separate image.
In the Settings menu, you can change the image format (png or svg) and the image size.
The images are oriented according the sequence flow and the form currently being viewed (B or C).

The image naming pattern can be set in Settings in the Tools menu.

The Figure Grid system for Unknown and Free Unknown operations

Either from the very start or from an existing sequence, View ... Figs in Grid will set each figure into a tabular grid format showing the K-factors and any other relevant information. Use the Grid info to change the number of grid columns if required. This grid can be printed for distribution to sequence designers bearing all the relevant figure information, so that submitted sequences conform to CIVA regulations.

The Grid View contains an info box that assists in selection of Free Unknown figures. It provides information on the amount of positive and negative figure entries and exits, as well as the associated Low, Neutral or High speed.
Below this is an indication of the needed number of Additionals to create a full sequence. This is estimated by matching the figures based on attitude and speed (hover/tap here for full explanation).
To determine matching every base figure is assigned Low, Neutral or High speed for entry and exit. This is simply determined by any form of climb or descent at the start and end of the figure.
For example, a 45 climbing line has High speed entry and Low speed exit. A downgoing loop has Low speed entry and Low speed exit. A rolling turn has Neutral entry and exit. Etc... Note that this is completely independent from any rolls or further continuation in the figure. It thus presents a simplified but useable categorization.
To determine which figures match, the algorithm proceeds as follows:
1) For the entire procedure, only match correct upright or inverted attitude
2) Try to match the first figure with all following figures, only using exact matches: High speed exit with High speed entry, etc...
3) Do 2) for all following figures that have not yet been matched to others
4) Start again from 2, but this time also accept matching Neutral speed with High speed or Low speed
5) Do an extra run just as the previous, but with all the figures in reverse order
6) The lowest number of sets resulting from 4) and 5) is used to determine how many additionals are needed. E.g. 3 sets means 2 additionals are needed

This is only an indication! The real number needed will also depend on sequence design preferences, box constraints and aircraft performance characteristics.

On the grid info panel there is also a button to create groups. In the resulting dialog you can automatically generate random matching figure group proposals. This can be used for selection of matching figure groups out of a large number of figures.
When the combination is not acceptable, click Create new proposals for a new combination.
When a satisfactory combination has been generated these can be copy-pasted to another instance of OpenAero or all loaded directly into the Grid.

It may be useful to add the submitting Team name or IOC country code to the figure comments. This can be done in the figure editor or by typing it between inverted marks into the sequence string after any Free Unknown identification letter "@A", "@B" etc. and before the figure code - for example "@F USA". This will be shown in the grid adjacent to the figure designation if present, or the first Aresti manoeuvre code if not.
Also, the country flag will be added to the Grid view (courtesy of

Importing OpenAero files into ACRO

OpenAero files that are stored in "filename.seq" format can be directly imported into the ACRO scoring software, thus providing a swift and accurate method for transferring all of the required figure information. Note that the OpenAero figure text string does not provide the necessary data for this procedure, and should generally be avoided if possible.


The Settings dialog offers options for changing the look & feel of OpenAero. There are three tabs:

  • General
    • Change the interface language
    • Change the number of columns in Grid View
    • Change the number of columns in the queue figure chooser
    • Choose if new or changed figures should be positioned clear of previous and subsequent figures automatically. This will only be done when the figure is completely new or not similar to a replaced figure and only when selected from the figure chooser
    • Change the image format (png or svg) and the image size for saving all figures as separate images in a ZIP file
    • Change the filename pattern for saving all figures as separate images in a ZIP file. The following replacement patterns are available: %pilot %aircraft %location %date %class %rules %category %program %form %figure
  • Styling
    • Select if figure start numbers should be in a circle or not
    • Change the roll font size
  • Expert
    • Allow non-Aresti rolls. This can be usefull for designing Freestyle or demo sequences
    • Change all drawing styles, such as:
      • pos : positive line
      • neg : negative line
      • rollText : roll font (e.g. 2x8, 3/4 etc)
    • Set realistic-looking perspective for turns
    • Restore all settings to their default values

Please keep in mind that when somebody opens your sequence on another system it will look different from your version if you change some of the styling values!