Sources for Airport Data

When a pilot flies into a different airport, it is important to review the current data for that airport. This data provides the pilot with information, such as communication frequencies, services available, closed runways, or airport construction. Three common sources of information are:

  • Aeronautical Charts
  • Chart Supplement U.S. (formerly Airport/Facility Directory)
  • Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs)
  • Automated Terminal Information Service (ATIS)

Aeronautical Charts

Aeronautical charts provide specific information on airports. Chapter 16, “Navigation,” contains an excerpt from an aeronautical chart and an aeronautical chart legend, which provides guidance on interpreting the information on the chart.

Chart Supplement U.S. (formerly Airport/Facility Directory)

The Chart Supplement U.S. (formerly Airport/Facility Directory) provides the most comprehensive information on a given airport. It contains information on airports, heliports, and seaplane bases that are open to the public. The Chart Supplement U.S. is published in seven books, which are organized by regions and are revised every 56 days. The Chart Supplement U.S. is also available digitally at Figure 14-4 contains an excerpt from a directory. For a complete listing of information provided in a Chart Supplement U.S. and how the information may be decoded, refer to the “Legend Sample” located in the front of each Chart Supplement U.S.

Figure 14-4. Chart Supplement U.S. (formerly Airport/Facility Directory excerpt.

Figure 14-4. Chart Supplement U.S. (formerly Airport/Facility Directory excerpt.

In addition to airport information, each Chart Supplement U.S. contains information such as special notices, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Weather Service (NWS) telephone numbers, preferred instrument flight rules (IFR) routing, visual flight rules (VFR) waypoints, a listing of very high frequency (VHF) omnidirectional range (VOR) receiver checkpoints, aeronautical chart bulletins, land and hold short operations (LAHSO) for selected airports, airport diagrams for selected towered airports, en route flight advisory service (EFAS) outlets, parachute jumping areas, and facility telephone numbers. It is beneficial to review a Chart Supplement U.S. to become familiar with the information it contains.

Notices to Airmen (NOTAM)

Time-critical aeronautical information, which is of a temporary nature or not sufficiently known in advance to permit publication, on aeronautical charts or in other operational publications receives immediate dissemination by the NOTAM system. The NOTAM information could affect your decision to make the flight. It includes such information as taxiway and runway closures, construction, communications, changes in status of navigational aids, and other information essential to planned en route, terminal, or landing operations. Exercise good judgment and common sense by carefully regarding the information readily available in NOTAMs.

Prior to any flight, pilots should check for any NOTAMs that could affect their intended flight. For more information on NOTAMs, refer back to Category 1, “Pilot and Aeronautical Information” section.


Automated Terminal Information Service (ATIS)

The Automated Terminal Information Service (ATIS) is a recording of the local weather conditions and other pertinent non-control information broadcast on a local frequency in a looped format. It is normally updated once per hour but is updated more often when changing local conditions warrant. Important information is broadcast on ATIS including weather, runways in use, specific ATC procedures, and any airport construction activity that could affect taxi planning.

When the ATIS is recorded, it is given a code. This code is changed with every ATIS update. For example, ATIS Alpha is replaced by ATIS Bravo. The next hour, ATIS Charlie is recorded, followed by ATIS Delta and progresses down the alphabet.

Prior to calling ATC, tune to the ATIS frequency and listen to the recorded broadcast. The broadcast ends with a statement containing the ATIS code. For example, “Advise on initial contact, you have information Bravo.” Upon contacting the tower controller, state information Bravo was received. This allows the tower controller to verify the pilot has the current local weather and airport information without having to state it all to each pilot who calls. This also clears the tower frequency from being overtaken by the constant relay of the same information, which would result without an ATIS broadcast. The use of ATIS broadcasts at departure and arrival airports is not only a sound practice but a wise decision.