Briefing 101 – locate the charts and procedure descriptions for your next flight. Guide to SID, STAR, approach and en route chart websites.
Important links for this section:
- EAD (AIP and charts for entire Europe, including Turkey, excluding Russia)
- RAD (direct limits, route availability in Europe)
- IFPS Validation (flight plan validation)
- Skyvector (online enroute chart)
- CENOR (military airport charts for Austria, Belgium, czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Poland)
EAD (free registration required) is my basic source of airport diagrams terminal area charts and approach plates for Europe. It contains charts, AIP, AIC and supplements for almost all European countries (with the exception of Russia). Jordan, Turkey and Philippines are also included in EAD.
To use it first you need to create an account, then login and then click “Enter Applications”. In new window (or a new browser tab) the Applications will open. To search for charts go to PAMS Light [AIP]. From the header menu you can choose the state, authority type (if there are several AIPs – like in Poland where we have AIP Civil, AIP VFR and AIP Mil), the language (usually only EN is available). For charts – select AIP Type: Charts and then Part: AD (for airport) or ENR (for En Route). Type / Part structure shows the national AIP structure and in some rare cases you will need to spend some time searching for what you need but in most cases – finding a right chart takes just a few seconds.
RAD (Route Availability Document) is the source of additional information about terminal (airport connectivity) and en route procedures.
If you want to check if your route is correct – go to IFPS Validation.
Military flyers should also visit CENOR.
It is difficult to plan an international route using national charts only – for larger en route maps I go to skyvector (although it is good to check skyvector’s information in AIP later).
Finding VFR charts is much more complicated – in some cases local Air Traffic Services’ websites provide such charts (like the German chart below). Few other I use:
Europe – VFR charts
If I had not found a proper VFR chart in EAD – I look further. Below are the links to websites I use (or used) in my flights. If you have similar links – please send me a message and I will publish them as well.
Austria. There is no VFR chart for Austria available for free (but check out the German map linked below). Austro Control provides an useful airspace structure file for Google Earth.
Czech Republic. Online chart.
Denmark. EAD provides a great VFR chart.
Estonia. VFR chart.
France. Online chart.
Germany. I use their VFReBulletin (free registration required). Turn it to “ICAO” mode (in upper right corner). German chart covers Austria, Switzerland, most of Czech Republic and parts of Italian Alps.
Latvia. VFR chart
Skyvector.com was created by (and mostly for) Americans. You will find all en route charts for U.S. and all airport plates on airport pages. That is all that you need to fly in U.S.
I did not find digital charts at Navcanada. I usually use Skyvector for routes. U.S. WAC and Sectional Charts are useful in border areas. Current airport plates are available in a large PDF file.
Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Ocean
When I look for en route maps – I use the Skyvector.
- Australian airport plates
- New Zealand airport plates
- AIP of several countries in Oceania – Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu
I usually begin my search at Eurocontrol’s AIP list. Then I use google.
World – payware
Navigraph is a payware chart provider for simulator users. They offer en route charts for the whole world and airport plates for most of airports that published IFR procedures. I bought several en route charts before I started using Skyvector. Now I do not see why would I change a free Skyvector for a PDF chart.
Chart subscription may be a good idea if you fly over places that do not have easily available charts online (like some African and Asian countries). Otherwise – for me it’s a waste of money.
Aerosoft’s PFPX provides en route chart. You can update it with Aerosoft Navdata or Navigraph’s AIRAC update.
VATSIM and IVAO charts
VATSIM and IVAO related websites often publish charts that are not available in other sources. I often use charts from these providers when flying over exotic locations. These charts are often out of date but they are sufficient for flight simulator purposes.
To find such websites google the country or region name + VACC (Virtual Area Control Center) or VATSIM or IVAO.
VATSIM has it’s own (very useful) chart link page – Navigation Charts and Flight Planning Tools.
Scanned paper maps
There are other sources of charts that I find useful – especially in VFR flights.
VFR chart for Australia is available at this website. It’s cut into pieces that can be used in FS Moving Map, but you do not need this software to look at the images.
A large set of historical maps and charts including Operational Navigation Chart (1:1000000), Tactical Pilotage Chart (1:500000) and Joint Operations Graphic (useful for VFR flights) is located at The University of Texas. Some of these charts were created in 1960s, other in 80s and 90s. Despite their age – I find them useful when navigating visually over places that have not changed much – for example when flying over Africa and Pacific islands.
Submit your sources!
If you have links to websites that I could promote – share them!