FAA Stops Direct Chart Sales To Small Dealers
The FAA will no longer offer wholesale rates on aeronautical charts to dealers with less than $5,000 per year in sales, as of this week. Instead, retailers who meet the sales minimum can be designated as Chart Agents, under a new system overseen by the FAA's National Aeronautical Navigation Services division (formerly NACO). Agents can buy charts at 50 percent off the list price if they give up the option of returning unsold charts after they expire, or they can take a 40 percent discount with up to 20 percent returns. The Chart Agents also can act as dealers to the smaller outlets, and set their own rates and conditions. According to one of those agents, Chartdealer.com, over 90 percent of retail chart sales were previously made by the smaller dealers who can no longer buy direct from the FAA. Chartdealer is offering to sell those small dealers charts at the same 40 percent discount they used to get from the FAA, but without the take-back provision. If small FBOs and flight schools opt out of carrying the charts, it will be harder for pilots to find the charts they need.
The FAA hopes to save money by conducting all sales online and dealing in larger batches for fewer customers. Much more information about the program can be found at the FAA Web site, including a list of about 450 FAA Authorized Chart Agents who have agreed to operate under the New Chart Agent Model as of last week. Only about half of those agents have agreed to act as sales outlets for smaller dealers, however. Click here to find a chart agent near you.