FAA Cutting off Free Access to Charts

I’m subscribed to a number of aviation newsletters. One today pointed this bit of Crony Capitalism in my direction that’s certainly going to have an impact on the Flight Sim community in a big way. Basically, they are cutting off public access to aeronautical charts:

Industry officials told Aviation Consumer that the market will likely reject significant increases in cost for apps and online products. Smaller providers and free websites may simply go out of business. Larger companies may try to keep their subscribers but with higher subscription prices. The pervasive fear in the industry is that this could lead to only one or two entities controlling the market for the distribution of government-produced information that is essential for flight safety. Aeronav spokeswoman Abigail Smith told Aviation Consumer the agency is determined not to let that happen but the new fees, whatever they are, will have to be enough to cover costs.

I understand trying to cover costs, so less taxpayer money is required to fund this part of FAA, but why not just charge for individual access, rather than routing access through a handful of vendors with contracts? By making some buyers more equal than others, the large players are guaranteed to be the primary beneficiaries.

With the lot that’s running the country now, you have to wonder if someone is getting paid off. It’s the Chicago Way.

9 Responses to “FAA Cutting off Free Access to Charts”

  1. Andy says:

    Um, my first thought is different. As an IT guy, you’ve certainly dealt with vendors of a product who may do the development and support but hand off actual sales to a local VAR. Netapp and F5 come to mind immediately, but I’m sure there’s more. So my first thought (realizing that your post is my current source of information, not doing any investigation) is that the FAA is adopting a known business model.

    I have no idea if that’s a good plan from the business side of things.

    • Sebastian says:

      Government shouldn’t be concerned with sales, only costs. Given they set the rules of the sky, they are a monopoly provider of these charts. There isn’t competition that can come along and undercut them. So if they hand off sales and support to a VAR, that VAR is then granted a monopoly by the state. That’s ripe for corruption. If the concern is cost, charge equally to individual or corporation.

  2. mike says:

    I don’t use these charts, so remind me again why I should be upset that the people who use them will have to pay for them instead of me?

    • Rob says:

      RTFA. Sabastian wasn’t complaining about them charging for the charts, only about the fact that they are doing it through a limited number of vendors instead of offering it directly to the public.

      • mike says:

        Not everything in life is free.

        • Sebastian says:

          I’m not complaining about having to pay for access, to help cover costs. But this is like creating a law, and then the government saying you have to pay some third party to find out what that law is. That’s what FAA is doing here, and it’s not right.

  3. Sebastian says:

    I would note that if the general public would be OK with any swinging dick getting into a Cessna and taking off, and flying any which way to wherever, I’d be fine with that. But if you’re going to make “rules for the road” and demand everyone follow them, you damned well better make them easily accessible to the people who need to follow them.

  4. ParatrooperJJ says:

    Seems to me one could just FOIA the charts?

  5. Cowboy Dan says:

    If the charts are currently available for download without charge, why doesn’t someone download them before the fee comes into effect? I don’t know how much space would be needed to store them, but it probably wouldn’t cost a heck of a lot.

    Light a candle, people, don’t just complain about the darkness.