Despite lingering complaints, JeppView frustration eases

 - March 31, 2008, 12:07 PM

It seems as though every few months Internet message boards erupt with complaints about Jeppesen’s JeppView electronic chart and navigation database service. Now-familiar stories about servers going down, NavData downloads locking up and hardware incompatibility issues clearly are making some users yearn for the good old days–when electronic nav database updates came in the mail on CD-ROM.

Admittedly, the situation appears to have improved from a year ago, when heavy server volume resulted in JeppView customers having to wait in long loading queues, attempt multiple downloads and face being kicked out of the system multiple times for no apparent reason. Exacerbating users’ frustrations were tech support personnel who started by asking about virus protection and firewalls on the customer’s computer. Frustrated users often complain on the Web message boards that they are convinced their machines aren’t the cause of the problems.

Since the server capacity issue reared its head last spring, Jeppesen has made changes aimed at improving the routing of customers among various servers, according to a company spokesman. Information about precisely where customers are in the download process and their place in the queue to download has also been incorporated, he said, adding, “We have not had any major server issues since the instance happened a year ago.”

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Jeppesen’s internal data shows that less than 1 percent of users will experience an issue that “significantly hinders the process” of downloading NavData and chart updates, he added. As proof of this, the company points to a nearly two-fold increase in the number of JeppView subscribers who have switched from CD-based updates to Internet downloads since last July.

The spokesman added that Jeppesen has tens of thousands of customers who use the Web to download their electronic chart and NavData updates every cycle. In a number of cases, tech support personnel have found that the issue does indeed trace back to hardware incompatibility with the users’ machine. In these cases, technical representatives do the best they can to help customers through the issues they are facing.

“Also, we do not outsource our tech support,” he said, defending the company against claims made in online chat rooms complaining that support personnel are more likely to be based in a place like New Delhi than the U.S. “Everything is provided by Jeppesen employees who are located at our Denver world headquarters,” he said.

Of course, users who are having problems with online downloads can still opt for the CDs, which load quickly once they initialize. For users wanting to try alternatives to Jepp-View, the choices are fairly limited.

Lufthansa has developed an online electronic chart service called Lido, but it is geared toward airline operations. Garmin offers FliteCharts electronic charts for users of the G1000 avionics system. They use data from the FAA’s National Aeronautical Charting Office (NACO), which publishes its own electronic nav databases. Many sellers of electronic flight bags use the government data, as well as data supplied by European Aeronautical Group through its Aerad chart service.