Understanding the Aircraft Charts

We all know that people who walk or use vehicles utilize the roads to move to one place to another. Every road and highways are specifically constructed on the ground, which is physically visible and we move around following them.

Well, for aircrafts—they move across the air following routes called airways in which the same principles apply for vehicles on the ground. However, these airways are not visible and can only depicted in the en-route charts by referring to navaids and intersections. These navaids are, basically, VORs and NDBs, while intersections are normally points defined by distances and radials to navaids or geographical co-ordinates.

Today, most official aeronautical institutions have their own websites where you can easily track down real-time charts for free. You can visit VATSIM Chart Center or the EUROCONTROL to access the EAD site and check all the charts for all the European Union states and other countries that do not belong to the EU, as well.

Just to clear things up, the United Kingdom is also part of the common European airspace. We will have this discussion including those that are applied for this state.

Some countries like France provide vast of information in the enroute charts. There are others however, that only show the directions of flight for the airways. In addition, you can check the flight levels in other documents. For those charts containing information, you might want to check out the legend section to see the abbreviation used for the odd and even flight levels.

Take note that these charts have specific codes and grouped under the ENR 6 section. You should also check the document about the levels of flights coded and grouped under ENR 3 – ATS ROUTES section. The details are usually sorted alphabetically—that being said, you need to verify the basic designator by searching and filtering the files in the ENR 3 documents.

Airways may cross a continent entirely and acquire different segments of variable length which run between navaids or intersections. Each has its own indicator also known as basic designator. You will normally see them labelled by letters and a number between 1 and 999. In addition, these labels may also have a prefix indicating that it belongs to the upper airspace and an additional suffix letter F for an airway where only flight information is provided.

According to experts, “within a FIR/UIR, the border between upper and lower airspace is normally at FL245. Thus, lower airspace is below FL245 until land or sea level (AGL/MSL) whilst the upper airspace is above FL245 until UNL (unlimited). Within Flight Information Regions (FIR) we would find the so-called Control Areas including, among others, the terminal areas (TMA) and airways (AWY).”

The bottom line here, whether you’re the pilot in command or the aircraft manager, you need to pay attention to all the details not just the equipment or the aircraft itself, but also to the people around you. Make sure everyone is doing their part. Your main priority is to let everyone knows how valuable each role is.