DuraCharts: Sturdier sectionals for the VFR pilot

The DuraChart is on the top, while a regular chart is below.

The paper VFR sectional is probably the hardest working — and most abused — piece of equipment in the airplane. They get handled extensively, unfolded, folded, crumpled up, tossed in the back of the airplane, written on, erased, stuffed into gear bags and, in my house, they are apt to be chewed on by a 20-pound Siamese cat. All these things take their toll, which usually results in a tear in the paper along the seam, necessitating the purchase a new chart well ahead of the chart’s expiration date.

“I’ve been flying since 1964 and I’ve seen many charts tossed into the wastebasket or recycling bin before their expiration date because they’ve worn out,” said Joe Caccamise, the creator of DuraCharts. “It’s frustrating and expensive to have to keep replacing VFR charts before the six-month expiration date.”

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Chart provider shuts down citing FAA changes

New fees for digital chart products are on the horizon, but a California producer of wire-bound books of charts has already shut down because of a preliminary step by FAA, according to an AOPA.org report, which notes that Dan Johnston pulled the plug on EZFlightChart.com because the FAA’s AeroNav program office cut the lead time on the release of digital charts from 17 days to one day prior to expiration. Meanwhile, AOPA officials continue meeting with FAA officials to preserve pilots’ access to aviation charts.

FAA proposes ‘radically higher prices’ for digital chart data

AVweb is reporting that the FAA’s AeroNav charting division told vendors this week that it proposes to charge end users of digital charting producers about $150 a year to close a $5 million shortfall in its budget due to declining paper chart sales. The report notes that the new fee, if adopted, would presumably more than double the cost of some popular iPad and Droid applications such as ForeFlight and WingX. The story quotes one vendor: “To me, it’s pretty clear that these prices are a non-starter. I know pilots aren’t going to pay $150 for these products without screaming about it.”