After a LiDAR flight, we can get a file containing the airplane trajectory in SBET format - Smoothed Best Estimate of Trajectory.

Is it possible to open it in a GIS software like QGIS or ArcGIS?

If not, is there a way to convert it into a readable file?

  • If you are open to using python, I was able to use this python script with a little modification to read SBET/SOL files. I created an ArcGIS python tool and added the option to convert the SBET positions to 3D point at a user defined interval (i.e. 1 second).
    – Barbarossa
    Dec 27, 2015 at 22:24
  • 1
    @Barbarossa The Python script you have linked to has been moved and is now available from github.com/pmlrsg/arsf_tools (read_nav_file.py).
    – danclewley
    Oct 3, 2016 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


PDAL has an SBET reader (and a writer too) that you could use to convert the file into text and then on to most other formats.

pdal translate myfile.sbet output.txt

When working with Lat/Lon default precision is not enough, so use:

pdal translate myfile.sbet output.txt -w writers.text --writers.text.precision=5

It is a very simple format. See the PDAL source code for more detail on what's in there.

  • Great @Howard Butler! As far as I saw, the PDAL is available to windows via trac.osgeo.org/osgeo4w (just for 64bit version). Thanks.
    – Gorgens
    Dec 31, 2015 at 10:37
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    The default precision for the translate command is not enough when working with Lat/Lon. I would use pdal translate mysbet.sbet mytext.txt -w writers.text --writers.text.precision=5
    – miln40
    Oct 18, 2019 at 11:49
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    Also, pdal is now available with the Anaconda package.
    – miln40
    Oct 22, 2019 at 9:13

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