So, you’d like to make your sim flights as realistic as possible by using up to date charts and terminal procedures, or you pilot real planes and are looking for the latest aeronautical charts and airport data? Well, your friendly FAA has put in the effort to meet your needs. Responding to popular demand, all sectionals, TAF’s, A/FD information, Terminal Procedures, IFR enroute charts, airport diagrams, and world charts, and more are now available for free. Just go to aeronav.faa.gov and click on the “Free Digital Products” link in the left column.
Another source I like to go to while I am creating a flight plan is airnav.com.
Why use public money to make this information available? Mainly, safety. It’s not cheap to keep up to date on this data, and the FAA is concerned that some people may forego updates to save a little money, possibly compromising the safety of the system. Also, in the interest of safety, it is part of the government’s job to create and regulate this data, so, really, the data belongs to the public in the first place.