The Earth
The Solar System & Time
Using Aeronautical Charts
Basics of Navigation
Distance, Speed & Time
Vertical Navigation
Fuel Planning
Practical Navigation Techniques
Radio Navigation
Practice Exam

Aeronautical Charts

Charts for PPL Flying

There are many different aeronautical charts produced for different purposes. The two most commonly used in PPL aeroplane flying are:

1:500 000 scale Aeronautical Chart (known as the “half mil”)
1:250 000 scale Topographical Air Chart (known as the “quarter mil”)

The 1:500 000 aeronautical chart is used for the vast majority of PPL(A) flying and it is the chart we will use for this course (and your exam).

Chart Scales

The scale is stated at the top of the chart. A scale of 1:500 000 means that 1cm on the chart represents 500,000cm on the Earth. A scale of 1:250 000 means that 1cm on the chart represents 250,000cm on the Earth.

A ‘larger’ scale chart will show a smaller area in greater detail (the objects on the chart will be larger)
A ‘smaller’ scale chart will show a larger area in greater less (the objects on the chart will be smaller)

So the 1:500 000 chart is a smaller scale than the 1:250 000 chart.

Not for navigational use
Be sure to choose the appropriate chart for your flight. The 1:250 000 Aeronautical Chart only shows airspace up to 5,000ft. Many pilots have mistakenly infringed controlled airspace when climbing above 5,000ft because it wasn’t shown on their “quarter mil” chart!

Chart Dates and Amendments

It is a legal requirement to carry an up-to-date chart for your planned flight. The charts are typically re-issued once per year so you will need to buy a new one when they are released – the changes can be significant!

In the UK, National Air Traffic Services (NATS) are tasked with producing aeronautical charts for VFR flying. Click here for information about VFR charts, including publication dates, on the NATS website.