Aeronautical Chart in The 1990s

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In 1992, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed the elimination of world aeronautical charts. The government wanted pilots to switch to Defense Mapping Agency Operational Navigation Charts (ONCs). Various aviation organizations, citing safety and pilot demand, lobbied for the continuation of this series. Fortunately, the government listened, and this series is still available.

Implementation of complex airspace configurations around major airports, Class B Airspace fostered development of the terminal area chart (TAC) for improved presentation of Class B dimensions and better resolution of ground references. (Many pilots remember that Class B airspace originated as the terminal control area’s upsidedown wedding cake.)

[Pilots had previously paid a nominal fee for charts; however, the government in the face of increasing deficits decided pilots should pick up more of the tab, and prices for charts and publications skyrocketed. At one point it was proposed that users pay the development as well as printing costs, which would have put the price of charts almost out of sight for many pilots. Fortunately, aviation organizations, notably the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), pressured the government into a compromise. Many American’s still think the prices are outrageous, but considering the information available, and the cost of charts in other countries, pilots in the United States are still getting a bargain.]

On April 4, 1991, a new “Grand Canyon Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Aeronautical Chart” became available. The chart depicts communications and minimum altitudes for flight over the canyon in accordance with Special Federal Aviation Regulations. Jeppesen introduced VFR routing charts for the Los Angeles area in the early 1990s, and similar charts for San Diego and San Francisco were introduced in 1994.

The military’s global positioning system (GPS) of satellite navigation became available for civilian use, and testing of GPS approaches began in 1993. The first stand-alone GPS approaches were published in 1994.

With the rapid adaptation of GPS, the U.S. Coast Guard, which runs the loran radio navigation transmitting stations, in 1994 proposed to turn off the navigational aid after 1996. Again, however, aviation groups protested. At the present, it appears loran will be operational into the twenty-first century, but not with the number of nonprecision approaches promised.

Preparation of visual and instrument charts for the United States is one responsibility of the National Ocean Service (NOS), which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the Department of Commerce. Charts for most of the world are available from the Defense Mapping Agency’s Combat Support Center. Commercially prepared charts and other navigational publications are also available. Many individual states of the United States, and many international countries also produce aeronautical charts and publications.

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