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How to Read an Aeronautical Chart

posted 7 Dec 2010, 06:41 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 7 Dec 2010, 06:42 ]

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.

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