FAA ‘Clarifies’ Previous Change Notice On Charting Private Airports


Last week, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) reported that the FAA has apparently walked back from a decision last September to remove references to some private airports on sectional charts. In its Charting Notice, the agency wrote that “Effective November 3, 2022, Visual Flight Rules (VFR) aeronautical charts will no longer make reference to emergency value in private airport charting … Only private airports with landmark value will be retained and charted beyond February 23, 2023.”

Citing pilots using VFR charts for flight planning and in emergency situations, EAA expressed concern, noting, “The approximately 14,400 private airfields in the United States account for nearly 75 percent of the nation’s total airports, and are indispensable parts of our general aviation infrastructure.”

In a special notice last week clarifying the original Charting Notice, the FAA wrote, “Beyond the December 29, 2022 effective date, private airports will continue to be charted for their landmark value. Landmark value will continue to be determined using the same, multiple criteria prior to the removal of ’emergency or’ text from the legend. The private airport evaluation criteria is listed below. Visual Flight Rules (VFR) aeronautical charts users should not see a significant change to private airports depicted on VFR charts.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Apparently, the FAA has also clarified that no “Emergency Use” aerodromes that are currently charted will be removed from VFR charts. So it appears that the FAA, in an attempt to save two words in the legend on sectional charts has ham-fisted its way into yet another kerfuffle involving two Charting Notices (so far), innumerous phone calls and emails, and more confusion than clarification. When will they learn not to tug on a loose sweater thread? The Law of Unintended Consequences will always win.

    In the software development game, this is what we call “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”.

  2. I’m not sure they ever intended to remove airports from charts. It seems the FAA is just as bad as our CAA in its written communications. Meaning is obscured by imperious, grandiose wording.

  3. My experience has been that it is often impossible to discern private air strips from the air unless it is well demarcated or paved. Is it the gravel road leading to the ranchstead? that patch of grass over there? Although known to the landowner, on many flights across the Great Plains I just can’t see what’s indicated on the sectional.

  4. Sure wish that the FAA would likewise “clarify” why they decided (with essentially no input or feedback from the GA community) to strip out aeronautical data from VFR sectional charts which overlap the US / Canadian and Mexican border, thus depriving pilots who regularly fly near the border of valuable information for safety of flight. Just makes zero sense.