To help me stay current as a pilot, I subscribe to a newsletter put out by the University of North Dakota (UND) Aviation School. It is called “BoldMethod” and always includes a quiz with 5 to 7 questions. They have helped me a lot. I forward most of them to my select list of students and fellow aviation enthusiasts. Today one came out about Jeppesen (Jepp) approach charts. Things have changed in the digital age, so I felt a need to explain what Jepp Charts used to mean to pro pilots.
The Story of Jeppesen and The Quiz
Before you try this quiz, a couple of things:
1. You should be well in to your instrument rating training, as this is all about approach charts. They are not applicable to VFR, private pilots.
2. About Jeppesen. “Back in the day” the FAA published approach chart books, for each Air Route Traffic Control Center area, ARTCC or just plain “Center”. Later they changed it to each state, and combined some. Since the approaches change quite often, this usually meant buying a new book every time you went somewhere.
Jeppesen had the idea of a subscription, where you bought one, loose leaf book, for say – the East Coast of the US – and then periodically you would receive new copies of the charts (single pages) that you would update.
It was cheaper than buying books (especially for airlines, who got quantity discounts), but it took a lot of time in the pilot lounge to do updates. In fact you could “suck up” to a chief pilot by doing his updates, which had been stacking in little manila envelopes in a corner of his office. You had to do them in order, and do ALL of them, and log it in the front of the loose leaf binder.
It was a lot of work and no, we didn’t get paid to do it. It was non-paying, non-flight time. I have many memories of sitting around the crew lounge, doing updates with other pilots, and whining about as well.
Today, it’s all digital, as it seems every pilot has a tablet of some sort with some sort of chart app on it. Most of them are FAA but the Jeppesen option is available for a fee. Jeppesen added a lot of detail to charts, to justify the extra cost. They are not required. Some pilots think they are superior charts, and they probably are but the “superiority” is not necessary to safety of flight. Nonetheless you may still find yourself in a position where you have to read Jeppesen (or Jepp for short) charts, so it’s a good idea to know the “extra” symbology they have added.
If you’re up to it, take the quiz. If you are not going through instrument training right now, this quiz will be intimidating nonsense to you, so please don’t be discouraged.