Tips to read aeronautical charts - Aviation for Aviators
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Tips to read aeronautical charts



I’ve always been fascinated by how pilots navigate the skies; isn’t that puzzling? Drivers use road maps, and signs along the way guide them in the right direction. But what about pilots in the air? They don’t have any indications telling them where to go or what obstacles they should avoid, and getting lost is out of the question. As a result, they rely on an aeronautical chart to navigate.


An aeronautical chart is a map used to help in aircraft navigation. Pilots can establish their position, safe altitude, optimum route to a destination, navigation aids along the way, alternate landing areas in the event of an in-flight emergency, and other helpful information such as radio frequencies and airspace borders using it and other technologies. There are maps for every landmass on the planet, as well as long-distance maps for trans-oceanic travel.


Visual charts are classified according to their scale which is directly proportional to the size of the area covered by one map.

  1. World Aeronautical Charts (WACs) are a form of aeronautical charts used for navigation by pilots of medium-speed aircraft and aircraft flying at high altitudes. They have a scale of 1:1,000,000 and cover a huge area. These graphs are similar to sectional graphs and use the same symbols. However, because of the smaller scale, it has less information. It displays topographic information, airports, and radio navigational aids. They’re useful for strategic flight planning, as they provide you with a bird’s-eye view of the whole flight region. These charts are updated annually, except for a few Alaskan charts and the Mexican/Caribbean charts, which are updated every two years.
  2. Sectional charts are printed on both sides of the map and have a scale of 1:500,000. They cover a total area of around 340×340 miles. It is aimed to be used in visual flight rules air navigation (VFR). It shows topographical elements (such as terrain levels), ground features (such as rivers, dams, bridges, and buildings), and other ground objects that pilots may find useful (airports, beacons, landmarks, etc.). Not only those but also airspace classifications, ground-based navigation aids, radio frequencies, longitude and latitude, navigation waypoints, and navigation routes are displayed on the sectional charts. These charts are updated every six months.
  3. VFR Terminal area charts are designed with a scale and coverage appropriate for a large airport’s general surroundings (1:250,000).

Fixed-Base Operators (FBOs), internet supply providers, and catalogs of aeronautical gear all sell aeronautical charts. They are also available to view on the FAA’s website. Because aeronautical information is always changing, pilots should double-check the effective dates on each chart and publication. It is critical to always use current editions and remove obsolete charts and publications to avoid risk.

These are some quick tips to begin reading the sectional charts


First tip

Every location on the planet has a latitude and longitude coordinate system that is defined by an imaginary grid pattern. To easily calculate longitude and latitude, we must first know the equator’s and prime meridian’s locations. The prime meridian is a line that goes from the North Pole to the South pole and passes through Greenwich, New England. It is the zero longitude and serves as a basis for all other longitudes. The equator, which is perpendicular to the prime meridian, acts as zero latitudes and is the primary measurement for all other latitudes.


There are two popular methods for determining latitude and longitude.
First, there is the historical technique, which uses the degrees, minutes, and seconds system (1 degree equals 60 minutes, and 1 minute equals 60 seconds). Second, there’s the modern GPSecimal notation. And, of course, switching between the two methods is simple. The map is divided into four quadrants. A quadrant is a 30-minute latitude and 30-minute longitude area defined by a boundary. When pilots are identifying specified but large areas in sectional charts, quadrant identifiers serve as rapid referencing.


Second tip

One of the most important points in that chart is the airports. Of course, there are numerous types of them, therefore sectional charts differentiate them based on whether they have a control tower, a hard-surfaced runway, or fuel availability. Military airports are easily identified by abbreviations such as AAF (Army Air Field), NAS (Naval Air Station), and NAV (Naval Air Facility), among others.
To find out what information is available for a specific airport, check the set of letters and numbers that accompany each airport symbol.
According to an agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organization, each airport’s name is represented by an abbreviation (ICAO).
The dark blue circle with the letter ‘C’ indicates that the airport employs the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF), which allows passing aircraft to self-announce their location and intentions. This means that, even though the airport has a control tower, it is only operational part-time.

Credit : Pilotinstitute

Third tip

The terrain and obstacles
aside from areas of interest, sectional charts help pilots avoid obstructions and navigate across continuously shifting terrain. Contour lines or a shaded relief map are the most common topographical indicators, and either of these can be used as the sectional chart’s foundation map. The maximum elevation of any topography or man-made features in a quadrant is represented by the MEF (Maximum Elevation Figure).

Credit: Pilotinstitute
Credit: Pilotinstitute

Fourth tip

Controlled vs. uncontrolled vs. special use airspace are the three types of airspace that are represented by symbols.
The airspace where Air Traffic Control (ATC) services are provided is referred to as controlled airspace. The uncontrolled airspace, also known as Class G airspace, does not have ATC regulatory service due to low air traffic volume. Special-use airspace is an area where air traffic limitations may apply for a variety of reasons that aren’t necessarily related to conventional air traffic activity.

Credit: Studentpilotnews

Controlled airspace is classified into 5 classes

Class A: exists between 18,000 and 60,000 feet in altitude. Commercial airlines often use this airspace for long-haul flights.

Class B: represented as a solid blue line that encompasses the nation’s busiest airports, as well as important air travel hubs in major cities. Because these airports have some of the biggest aviation traffic volumes in the country, you can expect Class B airspace to be the most extensive. The geometry of Class B airspace varies from airport to airport, although it usually takes the shape of an upside-down cake, with the biggest layers at the highest altitudes.

Class C: represented as solid magenta line. There is a slight difference between Class B and C. However Class C has different symbols as it is applied for small and less busy airports but both still have the same upside-down cake shape.

Class D: represented as blue dashed, which is for the smallest airport in the nation.


Class E: refers to all other controlled airspace zones that aren’t covered by the previous categories.


The special use airspaces

Prohibited Area : which are tagged P-XXX and represented as solid blue lines with hash marks. They are usually established for national security and welfare reasons.

Restricted Areas: are tagged R-XXX and are represented by solid blue lines with hash marks. Drone flight is not fully restricted in restricted areas, however, a drone pilot will need to obtain permission from the proper regulatory agency.


Warning Areas: are tagged W-XXX. Drone operators are allowed to fly their drones in warning areas without prior permission, but they should exercise extreme caution.

Alert Areas: are tagged A-XXX are represented as solid magenta lines with hash marks. Because of flight training exercises and air shows, aviation traffic above alert areas is predicted to be exceptionally heavy. Another characteristic of aviation traffic in alert areas is that it might behave in surprising and unique ways.

Military Operation Areas (MOA): are represented as solid magenta lines with hash marks and are labeled in a manner that is very hard to miss. Military activities It could be anything from a training exercise to a packed operation. Drones should not be flown in MOAs since they are extremely risky.


Military Training Route (MTR): represented as arrow symbols in sectional charts, Military Training Routes (MTRs) are designated by a prefix of VR (visual rules) or IR (instrument rules) and a number. The number can be three digits, indicating that military operations are being carried out at altitudes greater than 1500 feet.

Temporary Flight Restriction: These are proclaimed in places where there are temporary risks or security concerns, causing uncontrolled aircraft flights to be restricted. The most common reasons for TFRs are the movement of the President or Vice-President, the presence of distinguished foreign dignitaries, large-scale entertainment or sporting events, disaster assistance, or emergency response.

Credit: FAA

Those were some easy tips and indications to begin understanding the sectional chart. And you may also check this user guide for all the symbols used:
So don’t worry, your pilot won’t get lost because he’s acquainted with charts and tools that are just similar to our roadmaps.





The Story of the A220, how it Came About and How it’s Becoming Popular




Aside from the fact that the Airbus A220 is the only airbus aircraft to not have a 3 in its name, the A220 is special from the fact that it isn’t fully made by Airbus, but instead a joint venture between them and Bombardier. This is all because of what some might call a mistake made by Boeing, causing Airbus to acquire a 50.01% stake in the company. In this article I explore its controversial creation, and why it’s needed.


The Airbus A220 was first named the “CSeries” by Bombardier, and was meant to cater to the demand of small aircraft in between their current-sized fleet and those larger already made by Airbus and Boeing. The particular area where it was expected to boom were the US markets, given there is always demand to be flying from small airports as there is no lack of them in the large country. At first, things were running smoothly and it was expected to enter commercial service in 2014, just one year after its first flight. However, things turned out not to go as planned, and the CSeries encountered issues on one of its test flights, causing it to miss the Farnborough air show, the largest in the industry, and delay its release. This was not good for the aircraft, nearly causing the project and the company to go bust, until financial aid was provided by the Canadian government.

(Credit: Simple Flying)

Boeing’s crucial mistake

Eventually, these problems were fixed, and the first CSeries was delivered to SWISS on June 26, 2016. Eventually, more orders began to come for the new aircraft, including the critical ones in the US. In fact, Bombardier was offering Delta 75 of the aircraft at $20 million a piece, a price which was even lower than the cost to build them, and a cost which was just too good to refuse. However, this was contested and was seen to be Dumping, when a manufacturer essentially gives away its aircraft as sort-of “Samples”, and is illegal in the US and other countries. Boeing was quick to take action, claiming that it was stealing the market from its 737s, despite the fact that Delta had explicitly said that they weren’t looking to purchase the variants that Boeing were claiming to be losing out. It was then decided that, given Bombardier was a foreign company, the US government would impose a 300% import tariff, something near-destructible for the company.

(Credit: Aviation Week)

Airbus saves the day

However, Airbus decided to step in and acquire a 50% stake in the company, something beneficial for both parties concerned. This was good for Bombardier, as Airbus has its final assembly station situated in Alabama in the US, meaning that seen as the aircraft technically wasn’t foreign, the import tariff wouldn’t be imposed on it. This would also help Airbus, as it would mean that the company would now profit off of an aircraft which had no competitors at the time. This allowed the aircraft to be reintroduced to the US market, allowing it to thrive.

(Credit: Aviation Week)

Where it is now

Now, the CSeries has been re-branded to be the Airbus A220, a move which has knocked it out of the park for the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer. This has allowed airbus to spend absolutely no money on development, and come away with an excellent aircraft, which is dominating its playing field. As of April 2023, 251 aircraft have been delivered, with another 785 firm orders. The airlines operating the aircraft include Delta, JetBlue, SWISS and airBaltic, who operate a fleet solely made up of the A220. When Aviation for Aviators asked their CEO, Martin Gauss, about the aircraft, he said that “The aircraft has performed beyond the company’s expectations, delivering better overall performance, fuel efficiency, and convenience for both passengers and the staff.”

(Credit: Wikipedia)


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Airlines of the World

An interview with Helvetic Airways CEO, Tobias Pogorevc



Helvetic Airways is a Swiss airline which operates its fleet of Embraer aircraft to destinations such as Greek islands and the Egyptian Red sea coast from their hubs in Switzerland. Their CEO, Tobias Pogorevc, has been in charge of the company since 2018 and overseen major developments such as the introduction of the Embraer E195 E2 and E190 E2 to their fleet. I put some questions to the man himself about the environment and the pandemic.

What do you see as the biggest challenge to the aviation industry at the moment?

One of the biggest challenges in the entire aviation industry is the staff situation. The pandemic
disrupted the entire aviation ecosystem and the situation is still very tense in the personnel area – both
on the ground and in the air. Helvetic Airways was able to counteract the natural fluctuation in the
cabin through early recruitment measures. In addition, as of the beginning of 2023, Helvetic Airways
has significantly expanded its existing and very popular part-time models for cabin crews, and now
offers various innovative models with “Fly your way”, in which cabin attendants can determine their
own assignments on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. Today, we employ over 240 flight attendants
and senior flight attendants in the cabin crew – more than ever before in the history of Helvetic
In the cockpit, we benefit from the good and long-standing cooperation with our sister company
Horizon Swiss Flight Academy. From this pool, we were able to recruit 24 pilots this year.
Another challenge relates to supply chains, from carpet suppliers to engine manufacturers. This will
keep the industry busy for a long time to come.

(Image credit: Aviator Newsroom)

How are you lessening the impact of Helvetic’s aircraft?

Helvetic Airways has renewed almost its entire fleet between 2019 and 2021 and now has 12 state-of-
the-art Embraer E2s – eight E190-E2s with 110 seats and four E195-E2s with 134 seats – and four
Embraer E190s. Helvetic Airways thus operates one of the most modern regional jet fleets in Europe
and the most modern fleet in Switzerland. The Embraer-E2 is currently the most environmentally
friendly regional aircraft on the market. Compared to the E1, the E190-E2 consumes 20 to 23% less
fuel per seat on European routes and the E195-E2 up to 30% less. Our own measured values are
even higher than Embraer’s factory specifications.

The E2 also sets new standards in terms of noise emissions, impressing in particular with its low noise
levels both inside the cabin and outside. The noise diagrams for departures from Zurich Airport show:
The noise contour of the Embraer E195-E2 is 28% lower than for the Airbus A319 and 60% lower than
for the Airbus A320. Particularly for airports near densely populated areas, the ability to reduce the
noise impact on people is an important factor.


What lessons did you learn from the pandemic?

In aviation, crisis situations are regularly trained for, but no one was prepared for a global crisis like the
Corona pandemic. We kept all our crews current during the pandemic so that we would be ready when
business picked up again. In retrospect, that was absolutely the right decision. But then the restart
happened faster than expected. On the one hand, we all had to get back to the “old normal” as quickly
as possible; on the other hand, the pandemic was not yet over – a balancing act that placed enormous
demands on the entire industry.
The pandemic showed us that even when things are at a standstill, you always have to keep moving.
As an airline with lean structures, we have the opportunity to implement new ideas and innovations
quickly, which proved its worth during the restart after the pandemic.

(Image credit: Aviation24be)

How is the Russo-Ukrainian war affecting Helvetic Airways’ business?

The Ukraine war and the fates associated with it are terrible but have no immediate impact on us as a
regional airline from an operational point of view. Our routes do not pass over Russian or Ukrainian
territory, which may not be flown over at present. What we do feel, however, are the indirect effects of
the war, for example on the fuel prices.

You have been CEO of the company since 2018, what has been the biggest change you have seen in the company since you became in charge?

On the one hand, as a small, private company, the fleet renewal to an E2 fleet has been very busy for
us. It is something special that we, as a niche player, can rely on the most modern fleet. But this is
only possible thanks to the financial strength of our owner, which got us through the Covid crisis even
without government aid. Today, we are financially strong, with no liabilities.
On the other hand, there was the biggest difference in the area of human resources: the needs that
applied in 2018 are outdated today. Today, we need to offer innovative and flexible working models to
recruit the best young talent. Work-life balance, diversity, inclusion must not just be buzzwords, they
must be lived.

Mr Pogorevc has been CEO of the company since 2018 (Image credit: Helvetic Airways)

Helvetic airways operates a fleet solely made up of Embraer aircraft, why was the decision made to do this?

Before unifying to an all Embraer fleet, Helvetic Airways operated Fokker100 aircraft, an Airbus A319
and Embraer E1 aircraft, four of which are still in our fleet today. The cooperation with Embraer was
excellent from the beginning and the development of the E2 series progressed well also due to our
experience and input from Switzerland. So the decision was also obvious to carry out the planned fleet
renewal in 2019 to 2021 with the new Embraer E2 models. The Embraer E2 is an aircraft of the latest
generation and therefore the right aircraft for the future. The E2 consumes significantly less fuel than
the E1 and, especially in times of high kerosene prices, it makes economic sense to operate an
aircraft that saves 20 to 30% fuel on certain routes at high load factors.
Another key reason for choosing the E2 jet was the commonalities, which is particularly advantageous
in the areas of training and maintenance.
All our pilots are certified for both the E1 and the E2, and the maintenance in our hangar is also
certified for both types of aircraft. We operate the aircraft, we maintain it and we have our own flight
school, the Horizon Swiss Flight Academy, where we train our pilots and engineers – all from Zurich.
In other words, we have specialists for all areas: training, operations and maintenance – in effect we
have become the Embraer competence center in Europe.

(Image credit: Flickr)

And Finally, what can we see in the near future for Helvetic airways?

First and foremost, our goal is to continue to offer our partners, customers and passengers reliable
flight operations with top service. In doing so, we will continue to rely on our three main pillars of
wetlease, charter and scheduled flights. Furthermore, we want to remain a good and modern employer
for our employees. Due to our manageable size, we remain agile and score with innovation and a
family atmosphere with flat hierarchies. We will continue to promote this spirit. From April, for example,
the first “Helvetic shared apartments” will be ready for occupancy – apartments rented by Helvetic
Airways and sublet to employees who do not have their main place of residence in Zurich. These
colleagues should immediately feel at home in our Helvetic family!

(Credit: Helvetic Airways)

Cover image credit: Flikr

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Brussels Airlines’ Female Crew on International Women’s Day 2023



Brussels Airlines Airbus 320, painted with the Bruegel Livery. Taken at Ben Gurion airport.

On March 8th, International Women’s Day 2023, Brussels Airlines made history by operating a flight from Brussels to Marseille with an all-female cockpit crew. This milestone marks the first time that the airline had ever flown with an all-female cockpit crew, and it sends a powerful message of support for gender equality in the aviation industry.

Brussels Airlines is the flag carrier airline of Belgium and operates flights to over 120 destinations, with a fleet of more than 50 aircraft offering both economy and business class seating. The airline is also committed to sustainability and supports social initiatives through its charity program, for Africa. Its subsidiary, Brussels Airlines Cargo, provides cargo services.

Captain Anne-Sophie Godart, First Officer Charlotte Verstraete, and Flight Engineer Virginie Dupon, all highly experienced pilots with a combined total of more than 25,000 flight hours, were the crew who operated the special flight. The three women were honored to be part of this historic event, with Captain Godart stating, “It’s an honor to be part of this flight and to be able to make a statement about gender equality in the aviation industry. We are proud to be able to show that women can do the same job as men, and that we can do it just as well.”

The flight was a success, and the crew received cheers and applause upon arrival in Marseille. It was a powerful statement of support for gender equality in the aviation industry, and a reminder that women are capable of anything men can do.

Brussels Airlines has been actively recruiting more female pilots and creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment for all of its employees. This flight was a proud moment for the airline, which is committed to promoting gender equality in the aviation industry and providing equal opportunities for all.


As International Women’s Day 2023 is celebrated, it is a time to acknowledge the progress made in the fight for gender equality, but also recognize the work that still needs to be done. Brussels Airlines‘ all-female cockpit crew serves as a beacon of hope for aspiring female pilots and a symbol of progress for the aviation industry as a whole.

Let us soar higher on this International Women’s Day 2023, celebrating the fearless women who have conquered the skies and shattered stereotypes in aviation, inspiring generations to come.

Captain Anne-Sophie Godart, pilot of Brussels Airlines’ all-female crew, celebrates International Women’s Day 2023 in the cockpit
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