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In the pay-to-play, NextGen future the FAA is shaping, its no surprise that someone latched onto the idea that the government should stop giving this valuable data away for nothing. (Well, except we paid for it last April, right about the 15th of the month.) But the scheme cant work. If theres anything the website world has proven is that people wont pay more than peanuts for digital data if theres any way around it. If the FAA tries to recoup serious royalties from the data the way it made a return on paper chart sales, itll kill the industry. Most people will get just the barest charts they need (paper or digital), troll the internet for bits of free data to supplement (even though free sites like RunwayFinder will vanish), and fl y with whatever stuff they have.
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We saw several examples of upgrades where one or a few of the aircraft partners shouldered the whole cost because they felt passionate about the need. One of these was a $27,000 avionics upgrade-not exactly chump change. Other partnerships ended because of unresolved differences in what an airplane needed. Similar comments came up about maintenance-all members must have the same philosophy, be it fix it now or shop on eBay.