I'm wondering if the CAA or NATS distribute the official 1:500000 charts in a digital format at all?
Being able to print off a chart that I've cropped/scaled to my requirements would be a massive improvement over using the standard (and cumbersome) laminated charts.
I've had a look at Skydemon charts, but it doesn't seem to be suitable as there tends to be too little detail to be viable for actual use in a VFR flight (unless in conjunction with a GPS). I've also had a look at Aware's Fastplan software (which uses rasters of the official charts), but it's likely to be overly expensive for what I need - most of the other features aren't all that great and redundant for me.
I've also seen the Memory Map versions, which are also expensive.
What would be ideal is something like this, from the FAA:
None. The data on the basemap belongs to Ordnance Survey and they charge handsomely for it, which is why Memory Map charts cost as much as they do.
The attitude in the US is different, not only the FAA Sectionals but also all of the NOAA Marine Charts are available free so I can download the charts into Foreflight on my iPad when flying and the marine charts into SeaIQ when sailing.
In the US the free provision of mapping data producs a distribution system that is cheap and efficient and facilitates commerce while the UK's way of doing things involves protectionism and charges that restrict the ready availability of the data. If we had the will to pay for it through taxation rather than through sales the unit cost would drop to next to nothing.
Airspace Avoid, the free app, gives a 500mil moving map, updated every 4 weeks. Expandable map. Still learning it's uses. On a steady course, the wee plane symbol has a long blue-and-white line predicting its track. With a 20k+ ground level wind, at 45+ degrees to our desired track, over rather featureless moor with haze, we just put the line on the airport circle, and flew the compas heading that kept it there.
Location: Down at the sharp pointy end, where all the weather is made.
There's more to the Memory Map version than just a printable map. A couple of clicks gets you a line on the map - just another click and drag to insert waypoints. You get total and leg distances AND true tracks. Absolutely brilliant for planning without having to spread a map all over the living room floor and getting ink on the carpet etc!
Once you've chosen your route, simply print out the necessary sections on A4 in landscape; I use an A4 board for longer navs. You can scribble headings, times etc on the printout, then any ATC stuff, wx etc. Then throw the sheets away at the end of the flight; they've cost a penny or so to produce!
I've looked at Skydemon maps and I do believe they're not 'official', so you still need to buy the relevant 'legal' chart.
Its the data that matters. The most important thing by far is presenting the data in a way that the pilot feels comfortable using. Getting unambiguous information into the pilots eyes (and therefore brain) should be the aim of the game, and if some people feel more comfortable with a scanned paper chart because that is what they are used to, then that is totally fine.
The chart format is pretty much irrelevant legally unless you are dealing with a country that specifically mandates you carry a paper copy of the national air authority's chosen chart format.
Otherwise, look for correct, well updated data from a trusted source, presented in a way that helps you navigate effectively under pressure.
Interestingly, "official" paper charts cannot always pass this test... They are often out of date by the time they hit the shelves, and it has become commonplace for pilots to use old charts because they are still "good enough".
Last edited by Bobby Hart; 3rd Oct 2013 at 09:53.
You've jogged my memory there. In the late 60s, when I was in UBAS at Shawbury, the 1:250,000 charts that we were issued had no control areas or airways on them. We had to draw them on from another chart!
I find the MM Android app the most handy. The app is free; add the £20 CAA chart and you've an instant moving map GPS on your smartphone. Not very sophisticated, but gives position, groundspeed, track time etc.
I think Mike's post pretty much answered my question, it looks like I'm not gonna find what I'm looking for.
Memory Map has stuff I simply don't need - all I'm after is literally just a scan of the original charts. Considering I'm now doing my hour building and am looking to use all three charts, it would get pretty expensive.
Good point, but I always keep the official paper charts with me too, in case of a diversion or something similar, due to them covering a much larger area. If I were to print off a section of a raster, it would only be the part relevant to my route.
I may have another look at MM later - does anyone know if they are a direct scan of the original charts, like those used with Airbox/Fastplan?
The digital map still has to be surveyed, checked, drawn, (however this is done) .this takes skilled labour which is not free. The printed map is then produced from the file. The only saving for the seller of a digital map is the actual printing. If you çan't afford to buy it, then get an app using open source maps. That will set you back about thirty notes but you probably won't be able to print from it. Carry a spare battery, eh?