February 17, 2011 1 Comment
Like many pilots, I do much of my preflight planning online, and I typically collect information about the airports that I expect to visit with tools such as AirNav.com and AOPA Airports. The Airport/Facility Directory, published by FAA AeroNav Products every 56 days, is the venerable, official source of information about airports and navigation aids. Like a printed phone book, however, the A/FD lacks the pizazz of electronic sources, such as ForeFlight and WingX, which, at a click or a tap, also offer the latest weather and charts, and it lacks details about vital services such rental cars, restaurants, and hotels.
Most of the pilots I know have stopped buying the little green books, which is too bad, because even if you have fresh database in your aviation GPS or snazzy application on an iPhone or iPad, the A/FD contains much useful Supplemental Information that isn’t readily available in most other sources of aeronautical data, including:
- Special Notices about airspace and flight procedures
- Telephone numbers for many air traffic control facilities, Flight Service Stations, FSDOs, and other FAA and National Weather Service offices
- Communication frequencies for FAA facilities
- Keys to aviation weather reports and forecasts
- Preferred IFR Routes
- VOR Receiver Check Points and VOTs
- Chart Notices about important updates and corrections to aviation charts
The Supplemental Information section begins after the listings for individual airports and navaids, and it’s one of the many free digital products available for download in PDF format from FAA AeroNav Services.Getting to that information isn’t intuitive, however, so here’s my quick guide to grabbing it from the A/FD page at FAA AeroNav Services. For reference in the cockpit or at home, you can print the entire PDF (or just the pages relevant to your needs) or copy it to a smart phone, iPad, or any device that can display PDF documents.
Getting the Supplemental Information from the A/FD
First, visit the A/FD page and click the link for the latest edition of the directory. If you visit the page near the end of a 56-day publication cycle, you may see more than one item in the list.
The link from the main A/FD page takes you to the site for the latest edition of the directory.
The map never seems to work, so scroll to the search section (see below), and choose a state in the area where you fly or that you intend to visit.
Next, select any airport in that state (you can, of course, choose your home base, but any airport will do).
Click the Search button.
Two sections appear below the map:
- A/FD Legend and Supplemental Info
- Airport/NAVAID Results
To open the PDF document that includes the Supplemental Information, click Supplemental. (To save the PDF document to your computer, in Windows, right-click Supplemental and, from the pop-up menu, choose Save As.)
To open the PDF document that includes the Legend for the A/FD, click Legend.
To open the PDF document that includes the listing for the airport you chose earlier, under Airport/NAVAID Results, click View PDF (PDF).