Stand-Alone DMEs on Charts

As the FAA moves ahead it with its plans to decommission about one-third of the existing network of VORs in the continental U.S. (for more information, see Another Update on VOR Decommissioning and its related posts), a new type of navaid–a stand-alone DME facility–is appearing on aeronautical charts.

Here’s an example southwest of Las Vegas, NV. Note the identification and frequency box for the GOODSPRINGS DME (GOG). The site of the transmitter is shown by the small blue box indicated by the red arrow.


Here’s the same facility on a low-altitude IFR chart:


You can read more about these stand-alone DME facilities in DME Facilities – Charting and MAGVAR Issues (PDF), which describes the discussions of the Aeronautical Charting Forum, an FAA-industry group.

These stand-alone DMEs are primarily for use by aircraft with DME-DME area navigation equipment, and in many cases, they are left over when the VORs they were associated with are shut down. Where necessary, new DMEs will be added to support RNAV procedures based on DME-DME as an alternative to GPS. As you can see from the chart, these DMEs do not provide azimuth (course) information like a VOR-DME or VORTAC. They are simply DMEs.

If, like most IFR pilots flying typical GA aircraft, you use GPS as your primary navigation source, these charted stand-alone DMEs are of most interest as fixes that you can include in a route or flight plan. If you still have a DME receiver in your airplane, you can tune, identify, and reference these DMEs as you fly.

FAA Digital Products Available for Free

FAA appears to have abandoned its plan to charge for online charts and data.

A Charting Notice published February 11, 2016 says that “FAA is now making its digital products available for free approximately 20 days prior to their effective dates.”

Products covered by this notice include:

  • Terminal Procedures Publication (d-TPP)
  • Visual Charts (d-VC)
  • Coded Instrument Flight Procedures (CIFP)
  • Digital Airport/Facility Directories (DAFD)
  • Digital En Route Charts U. S. (DECUS)
  • Digital En Route Supplement (DERS)

You can find the free digital products at the FAA website, here.





New Digital Chart Format from FAA

FAA AeroNav Products is transitioning to a new method of producing its digital charts. Details are available here.

UPDATE (1/30/14): Based on productive feedback from our chart users, we have further improved the rendering of our raster chart samples. Type and features appear clear and crisp with improved edge definition. Compressed file sizes are generally unaffected, while uncompressed file sizes are much smaller.

VFR Charting has greatly improved its digital-Visual Chart (d-VC) process and we are excited to give our users an opportunity to see the new product before full implementation. Instead of using scanned chart images, the new d-VC is created directly from our digital files, resulting in a crisper and brighter image with improved georeferencing.

The new files are of the same type and format as the old files. Each .zip file contains a TIF, geospatial (.tfw), and metadata (.htm) file. However, Sectional Charts will no longer be divided into a north and south half. The entire chart will be contained within the TIF. Additionally, the resolution of the TIF is improved to 300 dpi.

We are allowing our users to view and test the new product. However, we will continue to supply the existing d-VC files through the 6 MAR 2014 chart cycle. Please see the Sample Sectional (ZIP) file provided.

Your feedback is very much appreciated. Please send any comments, questions, or concerns to

This excerpt from the Seattle sectional shows the new format.


New Edition of Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide

FAA AeroNav Products has published a new 12th edition of the Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide. You can download the free PDF version of the guide from the FAA website, here.


As the introduction notes:

This publication includes explanations of all symbology used on World Aeronautical Charts, Sectional Aeronautical Charts, Terminal Area Charts, Flyway Planning Charts, Helicopter Route Charts, Enroute Low Altitude Charts, Enroute High Altitude Charts, Area Charts, Oceanic Route Charts, Standard Terminal Arrival Routes, Standard Instrument Departures, Instrument Approach Procedures.

This guide is a great reference if, like many pilots, you use an app like ForeFlight or WingX Pro on an iOS device. Most aviation apps display aviation charts published by the FAA (Jeppesen’s Mobile FlightDeck being the major exception).