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November 15, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
Student pilots hear constant reminders to verify that the navigation charts and flight publications being used in training have not expired. And it’s an important preparatory task for an upcoming flight test to check expiration dates, and order new editions of any publication scheduled to expire before checkride day.
It’s just as important to be watchful for alerts about changes to the expiration dates themselves—such as the recent change in the expiration date of the Green Bay Sectional Chart, about which AOPA advised members on Nov. 12.
But don’t just make note of the chart’s revised expiration date; find out why the decision was made to extend the chart’s life beyond the published Dec. 12 expiration to Jan. 9, 2014, when the next edition would be released.
This was a case where the chart’s life was extended so that the next edition’s effective date would coincide with the effective date of changes made by the FAA to Class B airspace centered on Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, a portion of which appears on the western edge of the Green Bay Sectional Chart. Had the chart expired as originally scheduled, the following edition would have presented an inaccurate depiction of the Class B airspace less than a month into the publication cycle—not an ideal scenario.
The FAA safety alert about the change reminded pilots to periodically check the Aeronautical Chart Bulletin section of the Airport/Facilities Directory for updated information between publication dates of chart editions.
"The general policy is to include only those changes to controlled airspace and special use airspace that present a hazardous condition or impose a restriction on the pilot, and major changes to airports and radio navigational facilities, thereby providing the VFR pilot with the essential data necessary to update and maintain chart currency," the publication explains.
One recent example of a change published in the Aeronautical Chart Bulletin dealt with an airport’s common traffic advisory frequency published in the ninetieth edition of the Kansas City Sectional, valid May 30. "Change CTAF 122.8 to 122.9 at ST CLAIR arpt," said the note, which included the airport’s coordinates.
Knowing that your charts are unexpired before you fly is part of a job that also includes noting any changes taking effect before the new chart comes out—and sometimes, changes to the publication schedule itself.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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