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FAA Developing Digital Charting Products ProposalMarch 23, 2012–Late last year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) developed a draft proposal to address security, safety and cost recovery issues for paper and digital electronic products.  The FAA’s AeroNav Products Directorate hosted a session with authorized aeronautical chart agents, application developers, and representative stakeholder groups (e.g., NBAA, AOPA, GAMA,) on December 13, 2011, to gather feedback and ideas about the draft proposal.

The FAA is now verifying costs and pricing for AeroNav products to help develop a final proposal. Although the FAA has not set any dates for completion of the final proposal or a timeline for implementation, the agency will keep the aviation community informed about its progress.

With the growth of the world-wide-web and advances in personal computing devices, pilots have relied increasingly on digital aeronautical products rather than traditional paper charts. However, some digital products the FAA made available were replicated and resold without authorization. In some cases, this was done in a way that did not preserve the integrity of the original product, which created a potential unintended risk to aviation safety. In addition, the FAA’s cost recovery for digital products has not kept pace with changing technology.    

The FAA has been producing aeronautical charts and products since the Aeronautical Charting Program was transferred to the FAA from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in October 2000. Public Law 106-181, dated April 5, 2000 gave the FAA the legislative authority to charge fees to recover the cost of producing paper and digital products. That authority was codified in Title 49, United States Code, section 44721. The FAA now develops aeronautical products and sells them through a network of about 400 authorized aeronautical chart agents, as well as through direct sales to the public.