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Official vs Unofficial IFR charts

Being engaged also in the Flight Simming community as a side hobby I have been observing over the last years how good the charts available for flight simulation are becoming.

One prime example is who distribute FMS data, Approach and En Route charts renewed in each AIRAC change in dedicated software for the user (Pilot be it virtual or real) to see/print/use their charts.

What I was wondering as a pilot flying also real aircraft with real navigators and real procedures is, where is the border of defining a legal chart use or not ?

OK first of all, material coming out for flightsimmers have everywhere disclaimers saying “ONLY FOR FLIGHT SIMULATION USE” etc. this is a clear statement relieving the publisher from any liability.

The issue is that these charts & data come out of official data sources, the same used for official material for real aviation.

The difference is how secure is the data against errors.

Another difference is the cost off course. FlightSimming material is much much cheaper to purchase / subscribe to in comparison to real aviation subscriptions/purchases.

So one question is what makes you legal and what not using a specific chart ?

I always thought that you are legal with ANY chart being used as long as the DATA in it is current per the AIP for example of the country/state where you use it to fly.
Maybe I’m wrong.

Is this true or does it have to be issued by a specific “certified” somehow vendor if you are not using the official CAA AIP chart ?

For example do “Lufthansa Systems” (LIDO) or “Jeppesen” or “AERAD” for UK have a certification from CAA’s as being “official” ?
I think not and correct me if I’m wrong.
I think their use by Airlines/Operators etc. is based on TRUST that the material is valid and up to date for commercial aviation operations.

So it all comes down to liability issues etc. I guess.

As far as I know – I am not a commercial/transport pilot – the charts / FMS data are crosschecked by commercial pilots for data correctness/integrity based on flight logs they receive from dispatch office (i.e. that waypoint coordinates, tracks, distances on the inserted route agree etc.).

So the question is (to bring it to this forum’s context) : if as a PPL flying IFR (no public transport liabilities here) you use a chart that you similarly “trust” is correct, does it matter where the chart is sourced from ?

And to make it more blunt, if you trust a Flight. Sim. material as being correct (your responsibility off course) would you still be legal using it while flying IFR ?

I know and I agree, legal is not always safe, but this is a question about the legality out of pure curiosity.

Last Edited by petakas at 14 Dec 12:07
LGMG Megara, Greece

As to the charts, I don’t think there is an official approval as such. On my IR checkride, the senior examiner from our CAA said I had to have IFR charts of any origin, as long as they are current. With Navigraph’s FMS data, it’s interesting – you won’t get them into any built-in aviation GPS anyway (or would you? does anyone know of such a GPS?) but I’d love to find a tablet application that would take these data for departure/arrival/approach procedures – that would be an excellent secondary navigation tool, especially useful when you don’t fully trust your onboard systems, e.g. when ferrying a “hangar queen”…

LKBU (near Prague), Czech Republic

I just bought one month subscription for Navigraph to try it.
Charts are pretty nice and accurate, they are nicer than the official Belgian AIP charts, but the database is not complete.
For instance, for EBLG you only have the ILS procedures for CAT C-D aircrafts, not for smaller CAT A-B. Of course you can fly them with a smaller aircraft, they are just longer.
More annoying, some airports are missing: couldn’t find LFGA for instance.
So I would not rely on that database.

EBST, Belgium

That is useful input, I did not know, thank you.
Few days ago they announced a big change coming up that as I understand will make their range of airport coverage much wider and better in quality.
Its this one and to be honest this is what I read and decided to post this thread.

LGMG Megara, Greece

Ultranomad wrote:

With Navigraph’s FMS data, it’s interesting – you won’t get them into any built-in aviation GPS anyway (or would you? does anyone know of such a GPS?) but I’d love to find a tablet application that would take these data for departure/arrival/approach procedures

I would never enter a flight sim data in a GPS I use in real aircraft but the whole thinking was (is), what if I used THESE charts in a tablet I would carry with me instead of paper ones as a much cheaper solution for subscription than the options currently available.

LGMG Megara, Greece

There have been many “official” charts over the years.

For example the UK CAA ones, which every PPL trains with, and almost nobody in the UK used the Jepp ones and almost nobody is using the 1:1M Air Million one.

In France the 1:1M SIA ones were sold as “official”, though seemingly few French pilots use them.

Germans have had their own DFS ones which I am told most German pilots use.

But nobody I know has ever reported a law saying you have to use these.

There have been some random reports of airport inspectors looking for “printed” charts, years ago, but with so many pilots flying with tablets they aren’t likely to be doing that anymore. Also the latest EASA regs allow electronic data – various threads here previously. Whether you could use sim charts to satisfy an inspector… IMHO you could since none of them are likely to be clever enough to tell the difference.

BTW, for IFR charts there is also Skyvector.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

BTW, for IFR charts there is also Skyvector.

You mean EN ROUTE IFR chart.

Yes but it relies on you being online while you zoom in – zoom out , amend FPL etc.

LGMG Megara, Greece

Remember that on Skydemon ,at a push of a button, you can change from VFR to IFR charts.
Although they may not be technically ‘official’, they have served me well over the last 5 years (and saved me a lot of expense).

Rochester, UK, United Kingdom

Also, Skydemon can display the IFR approach / SID / STARs for an airport. This is the instruction to enable it:
- Plan a route
- Go to Airfields
- Click on an Airfield
- Click Tools
- Click Filtering
- Enable “Instrument Approach Charts” , “Arrival Charts” and “Departure Charts”.

The skydemon IR plates are taken directly from the AIP.
Also the airway data is taken from each AIRAC cycle so it comes from an official source.

Skydemon charts are AIP charts and so their presentation is not uniform from country to country. OK if you don’t fly much throughout Europe, but pretty dangerous otherwise. At some point in time, Poland even used feet for some of their charts and meters for others!
The biggest advantage of jeppesen charts is that they are uniform and made for pilots.

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