The Legality Of Electronic Charts

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Will that be paper or glass? The answer is likely both, at least in the near future, when it comes to approach plates. In December, Avidyne certified a software package for the EX 5000C glass panel in Cirrus aircraft that allows the uploading of electronic depictions of Jeppesen approach plates for display in the cockpit. Although the electronic plates, called CMax, are exactly the same as those that can be printed using Jeppview, the company's net-based system, the FAA apparently still doesn't trust this newfangled way of doing things. Both the Cirrus and Avidyne manuals include, at FAA insistence, disclaimers saying the screens aren't to be used as the primary source of approach information. Cirrus spokesman Ian Bentley said the company is currently negotiating with the FAA to allow that reference to be deleted from the Cirrus Pilot Operation Handbook. Change, however, comes slowly. "They [the FAA] have a tendency to look at this stuff fairly conservatively," Bentley told AVweb. And, although there is perhaps some symbolic importance attached to FAA recognition of the electronic approach plates, Bentley said having a paper backup is a good idea. "Regardless of the regulatory environment ... it seems like a reasonably prudent thing to do," he said. Meanwhile, only Cirrus customers have access to the system but Avidyne spokesman Tom Harper said the company is almost ready to offer it as an upgrade to other Avidyne systems. He said they're just awaiting final FAA approvals for the systems, which also include a cockpit weather service.