Air Chart System

Does anyone have experience with the Air Chart System compared to Jep? There seems to be quite a difference in price. Is the service not as good or is that Jep thinks their data is more valuable? Is AIR Chart’s system hard to manage? Any overall impression would be helpful.




See Art Pileggi’s comments about the Chart System from last November (click hereclick here).


I have a Jepp subscription for the North East where I do most of my flying. I was fed up with the hassle of updating every two weeks, so I decided to try Air Charts for the trip home from Duluth to Virginia. I am still debating whether to switch to Air Charts completely when my Jepp subscription runs out.

The big advantage for Air Charts in addition to lower cost is the very simple update system; just file the one or two update sheets with you charts each month and before a flight check for changes on the charts and approach plates that you will actually be using. Once you have the enroute chart binder, which covers the whole US, you can pick up NOS approach plates for a specific trip outside your subscription area. If there are major changes in approach plates, you can download the new plates with a PIN that comes with your subscription. Basically you never have to touch all the changes for frequencies, taxiways, or procedures for places you never go, but you have them if you need them. The update sheets are cumulative, so you just toss the old one and put the new one with your charts.

The Jepp advantage is in the level of detail on the charts. If you started with NOS charts this not an issue as Air Charts are essentially just the NOS plates and a repackaging of NOS enroute charts into a spiral binder. It would be nice if you could get Jepps with the Air Chart packaging and update system. As NOS converts to a more Jepp like format for approach plates, the case for Air Charts should become better.

I found the advertisements that Air Charts runs in aviation magazines confusing and amateurish. Their web site is better and has a good review of the system. Service has been fine. Hope this helps.

I have the Jeppview subscription, which is the CD subscription service. I get a CD in the mail every two weeks, and occasionally a paper packet with enroute or area charts.

What I have done is to make my own mini-binder of charts for airports I most often fly to. When I get a new CD, I look at the “revisions” section to see if any of my charts have been affected. If so, I print out the new one and replace the old. I can of course print out a chart for any airport that I don’t already have printed, which, after use, I may put in my binder or I may throw away.

Another nicety is that the charts print in terrain-contour colors and you can print a large version of the chart - about 50% bigger than typical chart size. This is nice for my presbyopic eyes!

A disadvantage is that I may not have a chart printed and in my mini-binder for an airport I need to dump into in an emergency. For now, I have a Garmin 295 VFR GPS that has all the airport info I need as well as the approach fixes and courses but does not have altitudes, holding patterns, missed approaches, etc. I figure I can get the info from ATC if I need it, but there still is a risk, e.g., the emergency is that I have no comm. When I get my Cirrus this situation will improve somewhat, as all the IFR approach info will be there, except altitudes.

Yeah, I can have my laptop with the Jeppview CD available but as a practical matter I can’t imagine trying to use that in an emergency.

So the longer range plan is to make use of the availability of approach plate display on the MFD when it becomes available.

The thread you referred to was quite an interesting debate about electronic vs paper charts in the cockpit. But I was looking for some real world experience with the Air Chart System specifically. How does the service work, as easy as they make it sound? Which system do pilots prefer and why?

I’ve been an AirChart user for years and I’m happy with the system. The updates are easy (simply
keep the most recent post card and review it before flight). Now that I fly the Cirrus, on most VFR
flights, I rarely use the thing. With all the info we have with the Garmins, Arnav, and Sandel, paper
is my backup when flying VFR.

However, I can’t stand NOS approach plates so I use Jepp plates. The differences are significant
and I feel much safer with Jepp when in IMC. For IFR enroute, however, AirChart has worked as
well as VFR for me.

Chris SR22 N747SJ

I am based near Chicago so I subscribe to The Jep Great Lakes service because I like the look of the Jep system best. However I subscribe to the full Air Chart system including a once a year set of FAA approach plates. They are legal for a full year if you have your Air Chart update with you. I keep the Air Chart IFR atlas available (in my lap much of the time) when flying IFR because it is easier to open it to the needed page than it is to fold up the Jep enroute chart. I mark the pages that show my route with Post-it tape flags. I also use one of those removable yellow tapes to show my route in the IFR Atlas so it is easy to spot the route quickly. With this set up I can legally fly anywhere in the U.S. at any time even though I don’t have my preferred Jep charts. The Air Chart Topographic Atlas gives you WAC charts covering the entire U.S. They are larger scale than Sectionals but better than nothing and legal. The Air Chart system is also great for planning a trip to an area for which you don’t have charts. Another advantage for me is that when flying from Chicago to Florida, for example. I come close to many states that I might have to divert into such as North Carolina. With the Air Charts I am legal no matter where I have to go. I wouldn’t want to spend the money for all the Jep charts to cover any eventuality and its easier to find things quickly in the Air Chart IFR Atlas.

I too use Jeppview. I print the charts I’m most likely to need and keep my laptop at the ready in the airplane. So far (in 4-5 yrs) I’ve only needed a chart that I didn’t have in print one time (I missed an approach at AIK and had to go to AGS for an ILS). It was easy to bring the plate up on my laptop.
In a REAL emergency you have the lateral guidance information in the 430 and can get whatever else you need (altitudes, DH or MDA) from the controller. They have that information readily available and will give it on request.
For me, Jeppview, while not cheap, is an excellent system.
By the way, for FAR sticklers, I did check the operation of the nav/com systems in the airplane while the laptop was on in VFR conditions, and there was no problem.

I’ve been using Jepp’s Flightstar for my flight planning. I like the trip kits you can print from there for VFR or IFR (strip charts with weather overlays, flight plans, weather, notams, runway diagrams, etc.) but I want it to print the current approach plates too. Do you know if FlightStar will print the Jepp plates if you have JeppView installed?


In reply to:

Do you know if FlightStar will print the Jepp plates if you have JeppView installed?

Yes it will.