Chart firms offer Jepp alternative

 - December 23, 2010, 8:49 AM

Pilots who have problems obtaining Jeppesen charts or believe Jeppesen holds a monopoly on the distribution of IFR approach and en route charts might be interested to know that there are alternatives. Jeppesen isn’t the only game in town, although the company has made an art of crafting its own approach charts and not simply repurposing government charts. In many cases, pilots have no choice because they need charts for parts of the world that seem to be available only via Jeppesen.

The situation is simpler in the U.S. because the government gives its NACO charts away to anyone who cares to download them. Outside the U.S. that is not always the case, although European AIS Database charts are also free online.

One alternative that is almost ready for prime time is the new European chart service from Seattle Avionics. That company expects European Union IFR chart data to be available on its Voyager flight-planning software soon. Right now, owners of the Honeywell Bendix/King AV8OR Ace handheld GPS navigator/EFB can purchase EU chart data for $799 per year.

At last year’s NBAA Convention Arinc Direct announced another alternative–a new electronic charting feature that is part of the company’s online flight-planning service. Users can drill down through layers, from high en route charts through weather and TFRs all the way to NACO and EAD airfield charts. There is no additional charge to use the electronic charts, which are provided by SkyVector.

Air-transport Options
Lufthansa Systems has long been the major alternative to Jeppesen for airlines and has approximately 60 customers using its Lido/RouteManual and Lido/eRouteManual products. Subscriptions are not done by geographic area but depend on the airports the customer selects, so the company wasn’t able to provide any pricing information.

The Lido/RouteManual and Lido/eRouteManual navigation charts are currently available only for the air-transport sector, but the company is considering its market approach.

Canada-based Navtech serves primarily airlines but a company spokeswoman said that Navtech paper and electronic charts are available for corporate operators.
Navtech is working on an Apple iPad app called iCharts, which will make all of the company’s worldwide charts available on the iPad. The price for iCharts is expected to be $250 per year, although Navtech was unable to specify what areas of coverage are included in that price.