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How to Read an Aeronautical Chart

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Aeronautical charts are vital to flight navigation because they help pilots to ascertain destination routes, locate alternative landing zones and determine an aircraft's position. Aeronautical charts serve as sky maps in much the same way as nautical charts are used by sailors to chart their progress and location.

Lots of useful information is provided on aeronautical charts, such as radio frequencies and the key visual details for airspace boundaries. There are also charts specific for trans-oceanic flights, as well as many other charts for other specific uses. Pilots cannot afford to ignore the importance of aeronautical charts and so they need to master the art of reading them.

Reading an Aeronautical Chart

A great deal of understanding is required about the different aspects of aeronautical charts. It's also necessary to understand the scale differences because almost all aeronautical charts look similar, with the scale being the major distinction in most cases.

To fully understand the basics of reading an aeronautical chart, the following tips will help you immensely. For this example, we have used a sectional chart, charts which have a scale of 1:500,000.

1. In any sectional chart, it's important that you understand which sectionals are used in order to comprehend both the departure and destination point, as well as any waypoints between them. Make sure you select the right sectional at the beginning so that there are no misunderstandings later on.

2. Sectional charts contain both a legend and lots of detailed topographical information. You will need to be able to comprehend the chart's legend and understand the chart's symbols, which give important information about airport data, restricted areas, mountainous areas, any flight obstructions and so on.

3. You should also be able to make use of a plotter in order to make sure they are on the correct course during flight.

4. One of your prime responsibilities while flying is the analysis of topographical data. The sectional chart should provide detailed information, which is presented in color scales ranging from seal level, to green, to brown. Brown marks altitudes that are over 12,000ft. The maximum altitude should also be marked in a numerical format on the sectional chart, so there should be no problems at all when it comes to understanding it.

5. While flying, you will need to keep an eye out for warnings or restricted areas that are plotted on the sectional chart, so you can avoid overflying them. There are different symbols used to mark restricted areas, but they usually always show hashed blue lines, which indicates that the area is restricted for military operations. Should a pilot accidently stray into a restricted area, it is wise to reroute as soon as possible.

6. Understanding longitude and latitude is as important as knowing the degrees and minutes that are plotted on the chart. During flight, you will need to make a note of any geographic features, such as towns, major roads etc. These should be marked on the chart, serving as landmarks.

So long as you can ascertain the tips above, you will be able to quickly master the art of reading an aeronautical chart. The most important thing is knowing what you should be looking for and how to identify that data.

Author: Andrew Berrey, webmaster and site owner of http://www.flightbytes.co a video and media sharing website for aviation enthusiasts. Upload your videos for free or just have a look at all the other videos. We also have articles on the site and we are always adding fresh content for all our members. Membership is free and so is uploading your videos.

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