I am guessing you stumbled upon this article because you need to make the transition from FAA to Jeppesen plates. Maybe you are studying for a regional airline interview, or you are in the military flying overseas?
Whatever the reason, switching to different plates is a pain at first. The information is the same, it is just located in different places.
I am not here to argue which is better. I have used both extensively for my job with a regional airline and for the military. They both have their ups and downs.
AIRPORT DIAGRAM DIFFERENCES
First, you need to understand the main difference between the Jeppesen and FAA charts is the Jeppesen charts pack EVERYTHING onto one page (or two pages for big airports).
The FAA charts, on the other hand, distribute the same information in several different locations. You will need to go the Airport Facility Directory, the Takeoff minimums and Alternate Minimums, LAHSO, and Airport Diagram to get the same information you will find on one page of a Jeppesen plate.
Check it out. Here are the two plates with the Jeppesen plates at the top and the FAA charts on the bottom.
Take a minute and look at the differences.
Difference #1: Chart numbers
You will notice the chart numbers are different. Each organization uses its own labeling system so you can’t move back and forth between them. A “15232” FAA chart means nothing in the Jeppesen world.
Check it out:
Difference #2: Frequency location
Look at the examples above. The frequencies above are jammed into the left hand corner.
The Jeppesen plates lay out the important frequencies in an easy to read chart at the top of the airport diagram. This is a nice feature Jeppesen carries over to the approach plates as well.
Difference #3: Size of the airport diagram and lat long lines
The Jeppesen plates substantially reduce the size of actual diagram so they can jam a whole bunch of information in one location.
The Jepp charts put the lat/long lines off to the side of the chart in an effort to keep the clutter off the diagram.
Notice the FAA charts run the lat/long lines through the plate, which is kind of nice because that’s how maps look, but it does add clutter.
Also, the official lat/long of the airport is at the top of the Jepp plate, but in the FAA chart you have to dig for the official airport location in the A/FD.
Difference #4: Airport Elevation and Runway heading
When you line up on the runway, most of the time the runway is off a few degrees from the actual runway heading.
For example, in Salem, the runway is 310, but when you line up, if you centered your HSI’s bug, it would actually be 313 degrees.
The Jepp plates as seen below easily highlight this, but the FAA charts put this number off to the side. Surprisingly the FAA and Jepp charts have to different numbers for the actual runway heading.
Above is a Jepp chart with the actual runway heading underneath the runway. It also has the runway lighting.
While it does note the elevation, it doesn’t prominently display it as the official field elevation. You have to go to the top of the airport diagram to get the official field elevation.
FAA chart with the Field Elevation prominently boxed. The actual runway heading is 314.5 which is on the side of the runway not under the runway direction.
Note the absence of the runway lighting system. You have to go to the approach plate to get the type of lighting for runway 31.
Difference #5: Airport Remarks
The Jeppesen puts important airport remarks right on the front of the plate. Check out this one:
The FAA charts bury the same information in the A/FD:
I have noticed the Jepp charts do leave out a lot of information from the A/FD. For example, the Jeppesen charts tell you to call the airport manager to get a PPR, but no where on the Jepp chart will you find that phone number. The FAA’s A/FD, though does have the phone number in the airport remarks section.
I presume with the Jeppesen charts you would have to go to Skyvector.com, or somewhere else to get that information. I can’t find an equivalent Airport Facilities directory for Jeppesen plates.
By the way, you can go to the FAA’s website to get all the A/FD for free: Airport/Facility Directory.
Difference #6: Additional Runway Information
You are out of luck if you want additional runway information on the FAA charts. You need to dig through the Airport Facility director to get the information. You also need to decipher the FAA information once you find it.
Here is the FAA’s A/FD for KSLE. I underlined some of the information also found in the Jepp chart.
Here is the same information right under the airport diagram on the Jeppesen plate:
Difference #7: Takeoff and Obstacle Departure Procedure (ODP)
Actually, the more I look at the Jeppesen charts the more I fall in love with them. Having the ODP on the airport diagram is ace!
Even with Foreflight, you still have to scroll through tons of pages to get to the ODP for the airport. If there is one thing I could change about Foreflight, I would make the ODP immediately instead of scrolling. Anyway…
To get to the ODP in the FAA charts you have to go to this publication and scroll through pages and pages to find your airport:
and when you get there it looks like this:
But, with the Jeppesen plate ,the information is right there for you in a easy-to-read table:
Takeoff minimums and climb gradients are unbelievably confusing for new instrument pilots.
Let me make it simple: if you are a Part 91 general aviation instrument pilot, you have NO takeoff minimums.
That’s right! This chart does not apply to you at all. You are completely free to take off in zero zero conditions and KILL yourself.
If you are a prudent Part 91 instrument pilot you will give yourself a personal minimum of 200′ ceiling and 1/2 mile visibility which usually coincides nicely with the ILS minimums.
But, you are legal to take off in zero-zero. The Army only lets their most experienced pilots go down to zero-zero, and by the time we accumulate enough time to legally takeoff in zero-zero, we know better.
Now, if you are going to fly for the airlines (Part 121) or a helicopter operators/smaller airplane businesses (Part 135) you will have takeoff minimums. You will need to pay attention to these charts.
So, what the heck is a “standard” takeoff minimum? Well, it depends on how many engines you have.
One-Two engines: visibility of at least one statue mile
Three engines or more: visibility of at least one-half (1/2) statute mile
Notice there are no ceiling requirements? That’s because lack of visibility is a greater danger than low ceilings. Sometimes ceilings can be 100 feet but you can see all the way down the runway.
Okay back to the article and the last difference in the airport diagrams:
Difference #8: Alternate minimums
Like the takeoff minimums the alternate minimums are on the airport diagram in the Jeppesen plates.
You will have to dig for them in the FAA charts by going here:
I took the liberty of highlighting the standard alternate airport minimums you should know.
So, when you flip through the FAA’s alternate minimums list you will get to Salem, OR and see this:
It’s the same as the Jeppesen chart, just not as well laid out.
Wondering what the different categories are for aircraft? You should know what category your aircraft falls into. Here is a chart to help you out from Wikepedia:
Note: this chart uses V(at) which is ICAO’s way of saying V(ref). Here is the definition of V(ref) for you airplane pilots:
When you need to figure out what your aircraft’s V(ref) speed is, think of it as the speed you are at when crossing the threshold at 50 feet. So, in the King Air it ranges from 94-100 knots. Therefore, the King Air is a Category B aircraft.
It gets confusing when your aircraft’s speeds on approach sometimes straddle two categories in icing or high wind situations (like the Q400). In that case, use the higher Category because the minimums are usually higher and will add an additional safety margin.
Helicopter pilots: you will usually use Category A since you don’t have flaps and can slow down really well. If you fly big helicopters you may use something different, but probably not more than Category B.
One more thing…..
At larger airports, Jeppesen can’t fit all the information onto one page so you will always have two pages.
Check out Jeppesen’s Portland International Airport charts:
So, that’s it. Those are all the differences to the FAA and Jeppesen charts. This article is getting long, so I am going to break it up into several parts. You can expect a Part 2 and 3 to cover approach plates and SIDs.
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