Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Why real maps should remain on paper

I'm a devoted GPS user. Even if I try, I can't imagine touring without one. In fact, I have two units - an installed and approved GNS530, and a Garmin 495. Both have current databases and both are very good, and both will one day get upgraded when the next wave of whatever comes along. I hardly ever fly without them, and I never fly without a paper chart.

I might love the latest and greatest, but my heart sinks when I hear of another GPS that displays a digital version of a CAA, Jeppesen or other paper chart. Showing real, georeferenced charts on screen is seen by some as the holy grail, but I just can't understand why.

When you go flying, how small do you fold your chart? I enjoy a fairly spacious cabin in the C182, and have become a bit lazy when it comes to chart folding, so it's at least A4 in size and perhaps bigger. I've been looking at what other other pilots do and most seem to fold their charts down to about A4.

That provides an area that would take at least 45 minutes to fly through in an average GA aircraft, and it's a nice size to help with the bigger picture, giving situational awareness.

Contrast that with the displays that are showing digitized charts. Even the biggest are just too small. Of course, it's possible to zoom out, but then it's a struggle to read the 'chart' - and zooming in so that any notations are clear just makes the immediate area far too small.

Charts were designed and drawn to be on paper; vector charting was designed to appear on screens. Having the real thing on a screen with a moving symbol of an aeroplane showing exactly where you are may seem comforting, but with the very minimum of effort the combination of a real (big) map and a moving (vector) map GPS is the way to go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

PLus you can't spread a digital chart all over the living floor while you doodle and daydream about the next trip ;-)