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France VFR charts -again

I know this topic comes up every now and then, but the variety of charts is really somewhat confusing...:-)

Background is that I am planning to do a bit of VFR flying in France this year. Mostly low-level, short distance flights in the eastern parts of France...mostly weekends, but not only (yes, I know, this combination is probably the "worst" as far as SUAs go, but I would still like to master it...

In recent years, I have mostly flown IFR in France and I really haven't done a lot of VFR. I am now in the process of selecting the most suitable (paper) VFR charts. I know Peter has posted on the subject numerous times. Let me summarize my understanding of the choices and see if I got it right...

1) Jeppesen VFR/GPS. The natural choice. Readability is OK. Scale is 1:500000. Certain (very small) airfields are not shown. And: The chart does not show activity times of the SUAs and more importantly, don't show you which frequency to call for a clearance to cross those SUAs. Finally, you need 6 charts to cover mainland France. The 2013 charts should be due in April.

2) IGN. Often referred to as the french "ICAO-charts". Scale is 1:500000. I recently looked at them at my local pilot shop and didn't really like them. It also seems that they are not particularly helpful for "navigating" the french SUAs (just like the Jeppesen charts). Plus, they only show airspace up to 5000 feet, which I don't like, even though I am planning to fly mostly low-level. Four of them to cover France. Due dates for 2013?

3) SIA. These are two (north and south) 1:1000000 charts that can only be purchased as a package, named "Documents VFR", and sometimes "Pochette VFR". Correct? Supplied is a booklet (or a separate chart?) detailing the activity hours and frequencies of the various SUA airspaces. Does this work in practice? Re the 1:1000000 format: While that should be OK for navigating (of course, I don't primarily "navigate" by terrestrial features), I am not sure if that allows to disseminate all the various airspaces in certain areas. Any experiences? Anybody know when the 2013 ones are due to come out?

4) Cartabossy. 1:1000000 (like the SIA ones), but there is only one chart covering all of France. Any other differences to SIA? Is it correct that all the information re SUAs (activity hours and frequencies) is printed directly on the chart? It doesn't seem so, so how do you "work" with them? Overall, probably the cheapest option. Also, the chart seems to show all airfields, including the smallest ones and the private ones. Anyone know the due date for 2013? BTW, I also see there is a separate version which is valid only only weekends (which is therefore a lot less cluttered). Nice idea, but as I also intend to fly on weekdays, that one would not be sufficient.

Again, the most important aspect for me is to be able to use the charts in order to identify relevant SUAs and to determine how to deal with them. I would ideally want to know the controlling ATC unit that is directly responsible for the airspace in question, so that I can can ask him in a heartbeat whether it is active or not, and, if yes, negotiate a transition. I really don't fancy studying hundreds of pages of NOTAMs before flight, working out which ones "should" be active and which ones "shouldn't...:-)

So, which one(s) would you recommend for my mission?

Oh, and please don't say "just call FIS and they will take care of you"...

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

I wasn't aware that Jepp VFR charts don't show some airfields. Sure; they won't show private strips perhaps, but most charts don't show those.

The SIA charts are IMHO the best for radio (GPS) nav because they show the IFR intersections which are in the GPS database already. I always flew with the SIA charts, 2004 onwards. Their chief drawback is that the vertical extents of mil areas have to be looked up in the booklet.

For low level, say below 3000ft, I would say the IGN charts are better than the SIA charts.

There are 2 Cartabossy charts for France, as there are 2 SIA charts for France. I bought them ~2 years ago but never used them. They look nice. The most recent I could buy were "dated" the previous year!

The SIA chart shop is here.

No idea how you can find out due dates, other than by asking the publisher. Perhaps a French pilot will advise?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

BTW, I have seen that indeed the IGN charts now show all airspace up to FL115. Will be interesting to see how readable they come out...

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

I flew with the SIA charts in France only. They are published twice a year and the March edition must be out soon. 7th of March.

EGBE - Coventry, United Kingdom

France has a lot of woods which are depicted on some charts quite accurately but not on others. I have used the IGN charts which probably are the most accurate in that respect, but as I operated near the overlap I tried Jep VFR charts to give better coverage then I discovered the depiction of the surface is nothing like as good. You can get the IGN Charts in electronic form from Memorymap.

You can get the IGN Charts in electronic form from Memorymap.

Are you sure the IGN charts from MM are the aviation charts?

Their website, on my reading, is unclear. And MM have never replied to any communications.

MM have for quite a while been selling the IGN terrestrial maps for France. IGN publish loads of stuff that's not related to aviation.

This is a well worn topic but, currently, there are very few ways to set up a GPS moving map that runs the "real printed" charts. For the UK we have MM. For the rest of Europe there are some local products; for example the German charts are (I am told) runnable in some way. The Jepp VFR/GPS charts can be (legally) run only on a long-dead Jepp product called FliteMap, which is FliteStar but set up with a different serial number, to enable the NMEA input. Oziexplorer is the key but not only does it not exist for the Ipad but also the aviation maps have to be obtained from "interesting" sources. The ancient ONC/TPC charts can be run under Oziexplorer easily but are useless except for topography and airport/navaid locations.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

In my opinion, you need 2 sets of charts to fly VFR in France. One half mill to know where you are, one mill to get information about the restricted area and their activity. In my opinion again, the OACI IGN chart is the best half mill. The background is really very detailled and every wood, river, village, rail track is depicted. If you fly real VFR looking what you have under your wings, you can't avoid them. I heard that the next issue will depict the airspace up to FL 115, which is anyway the highest you get cleared to in France if you fly VFR (although the A airspace starts at FL 195). This removes the main (and almost only) drawback these charts used to have. But this information is still to be confirmed as far as I'm concerned. These charts have an IGN background but the aeronautical info come directly from the SIA. Both are state agencies. That's official stuff. The ICAO IGN chart is indeed available now in a digital version. One DVD covering France, and enabling many things like route planning and so on. Unfortunately, last I heard the user guide was not translated in english, which is probably not a problem since using it is fairly straightforward. Next release due by the end of March, beginning of April.

The best mill chart is the SIA one, again in my opinion. It depicts airways, which the cartabossy does not. it is sold with a booklet giving you information about all Restricted, D an P areas. You'll know whom to contact to get real time activity information. Again, the booklet is in French only. Again that's official information

May I advertise my website flyinfrance which gives fairly detailled information about such topics?

SE France

May I advertise my website flyinfrance which gives fairly detailed information about such topics?

Yes - an excellent site

BTW Thierry I think the SIA 1:1M booklet is in both French and English - in two columns. I don't have a set handy to check however. I was using it OK but I cannot speak a single word of French...

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

The OACI IGN half-mill charts are out now, covering airspace up to FL 115.

See here, for example. No affiliation, it's just for the nice pic, hope that's ok.



I was not aware that flyinfrance was your site. In fact, when I set up my first website in 2008, it was inspired by your site!

Just see if you can bring the site up to date. Also, there appear to be a few bad links...otherwise, a good site.

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany
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