Will Continue To Make Charts Available
The Department of
Defense is not known for changing its mind about very much, but
efforts by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) appear
to have led to just that. The National Geospatial-Intelligence
Agency (NGA) announced earlier this week that it will continue to
provide US pilots with DOD aviation navigation charts and
The publications will include information about the United
States, Caribbean, South America, the Pacific, Australia, and
Antarctica. The publications will be available from DOD for the
next two years... and then it's in the hands of the FAA.
"We know that many of our members depend upon these charts for
their flights outside of the United States," said AOPA President
Phil Boyer. "This is a huge turn-around. When we first met with NGA
officials in their St. Louis headquarters, they were absolutely
adamant that they were going to withdraw all of their navigation
products from public sale this year."
As was reported earlier this year by
Aero-News, the AOPA vehemently objected to the
original NGA plan, announced last year, that it was going to stop
public distribution of its popular flight information publications
(FLIP), including operational navigation charts (ONC) and
international instrument approach procedures.
Many pilots used these products for their flights to Latin
America and the Caribbean. Also included was the digital
aeronautical flight information file (DAFIF), which many
flight-plan vendors use as their navigation data source.
At the time, the NGA acknowledged that AOPA had legitimate
concerns about civilian use of the products and agreed to work with
the association to meet the needs of the general aviation
The NGA said Tuesday that its products for the rest of the world
will be phased out of public distribution over the next 22 months.
While the DAFIF will be removed from the Internet by October 2006,
NGA will provide the DAFIF and all other navigation data to the FAA
Under the agreement, the Department of Defense mapping agency
will continue to sell its Caribbean, Latin America, and Pacific
area charts to the U.S. public for the next two years (but overseas
sales will stop in October 2006.)
"After that, it's up to
the FAA to continue publication," said Boyer. "We expect the agency
to start transition planning now, and we'll stay on top of them to
make sure they do."
According to AOPA, the NGA had originally proposed withdrawing
all of the products because of complaints from copyright holders in
other countries, many of whom also sell navigation charts. Some of
these navigation chart publishers were threatening to cut off the
DOD's access to their information.
Withdrawing products covering Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and
Africa "will assure the continued availability [to the DOD] of
information vital to national security," said NGA Director Lt. Gen.
James R. Clapper, Jr., USAF (Ret).