Paper Chart Supplements: Going, going… Gone!

Paper Chart Supplements: Going, going… Gone!
September 23, 2017 Comments Off on Paper Chart Supplements: Going, going… Gone! FAA,Instructor's Corner Tim Trott

The  once-familiar A/FD (airport facilities directory) printed booklets are giving way to the digital versions which most pilots are already using, either online or accessed through various digital applications. With the advent of GPS, auto road maps have all but disappeared. Are Aeronautical charts the next to go? .In June 2015, the FAA announced that it would no longer produce WACs maps, but following extensive discussions with AOPA, the FAA announced it will produce an Alaska VFR Wall Planning Chart and produce two new Caribbean VFR Aeronautical Charts. 

While not all pilots fly with an iPad, surveys show that a significant majority of them do. That means electronic flight bag (EFB) apps are now the primary source of chart data in aviation, and these apps are changing the very definition of “chart.”

This change is a reaction to declining paper chart sales, but the result will probably be even lower chart sales. Since the FAA has been subsidizing the cost of charts for years, prices will look certain to go up; in particular, approach plates may double in price this fall. Other charts could disappear as volume declines and it no longer makes sense to fire up a printing press for small quantities. The WAC chart has met this fate already.

Last year the FAA implemented a significant change to its distribution model, shifting responsibility from the federal government to private companies which to print and distribute charts to retailers. Flight schools immediately ran into problems when they were required to purchase and sell a quota of the paper products, often into the thousands of dollars. So much for reducing costs by “privatizing”.

Jeppesen, one source for aviation charts, has moved to a print-on-demand model, where they only print the charts as they are ordered, instead of stockpiling huge quantities of paper charts. They certainly aren’t abandoning paper, but it’s clear the future of their business doesn’t involve millions of pages of paper.

So now, in the very near future, we can expect that the the Aeronautical chart will join the phone book in Cellulose history. Hold on to that last one just to show your grand kids how it was in the “old days”. Personally, the older I get the more I prefer digital zoom over digging out a magnifying glass while juggling a large folding map. I much prefer the familiar magnifying glass icon next to the “search” box.

Most car and truck drivers, except for a few idiots, would not dream of blasting down the highway or busy city streets with their noses buried in a large format road map – they either pull over to the side to study the map, or have a “navigator” riding shotgun to give directions to the driver (Duane)

About The Author
Tim Trott Tim Trott is an FDLE certified instructor (#329775), and Certified Remote Pilot. and also passed the FAA Fundamentals of Instruction and Ground School exam and was granted one of the first 400 Section 333 Exemptions. As a writer, Tim has several books and e-books on, including FAA 107 UAG Remote Pilot Study Guide, The Droner's Guide (#15 in its category) and Out of the Blue - The Life and Legend of Kirby 'Sky King' Grant. Many of these courses are available for on-site training through Tim Trott has conducted training courses in Boston, Mass., Texas City and Wichita Falls, Texas, as well as Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale, Valencia Community College in Orlando, Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy in Tallahassee, and Gulf Coast Public Service Academy in Panama City, Florida. Between online and on-site training, Tim Trot has trained close to 1,000 students in various aspects of small Umanned Aircraft Systems operation.