May 2009 Issue

Jepp’s VFR+GP S Charts: Best Paper Chart, Period

Theyíre easier to read with key information available at a glance. While there are still a few things to improve, we may never buy a sectional again.

Sometimes the important thing is not what you say, but how you say it. Thatís the secret behind Jeppís new VFR+GPS charts. Itís not that the information is that different than what you get from a sectional chart, but itís in a form that makes it much easier to use. Forget the "VFR+GPS" title. While there is some GPS-specific data such as lat-long info for commonly-used reporting points, these charts are really replacements for your Sectional and Terminal-Area charts. Years of flying with looking at muted greens and browns make the first glance at these charts a bit jarring. Theyíre much higher contrast and use a wider range of color. But that color is applied for maximum effect. The background color for terrain is much lighter than government charts. This makes all the text easier to read. In place of the faint minimum elevation figures (MEFs) on sectional charts that provide 100-300 feet of obstacle clearance for each quadrangle, the Jepp charts publish a Minimum Grid Area Altitudes that represent 1000 or 2000 feet above terrain and obstacles. The numbers are in red, so thereís no missing them whether youíre planning on flying airways or GPS direct. Busy airspace is where the information density of charts is highest, and where keeping all that data readable is most important. The new charts shine here in several subtle ways. Class B and C airspace boundaries have their altitudes written on the border lines where itís easy to find and mentally connect to the area in question rather than floating in the middle of that area. Frequencies for approaching these airspaces also appear clearly on the chart, as well as in a black and white table on the back of the chart. Visual waypoints, common GPS fixes and even interstate highways are marked on the chart, so when the Tower asks you to report crossing I-70, you can do so with some confidence.

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