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In today’s world of digital, we have digital maps to help us navigate around by using our phone, IPad or tablet. Unfortunately, as a pilot we cannot just open our mobile device and use Google maps or any road navigation App to taxi around the airfields. With that said, we must use Airport Diagrams to help use taxi around the airfield.

As part of the preflight planning listed in Part 91.103, we must be family with all runway information and layouts, along with the airfield layout and the information the Airport Diagram tells us. These diagrams can also help you locate the location of the FBO, parking areas, and more.

It doesn't matter how basic the airport diagrams are, such as the one for Palomar Airport (left) or how complex such as the LAX Airport Diagram (right), the information is all the same.

Where to find Airport Diagram.

There are a few ways to find Airport Diagrams. One is we can do it the old fashion way and simple go online and print the current Airport Diagram out, using either.

Another way is if you are using the ForeFlight, FlyQ EFB, Jeppesen Charts or any other aviation navigation app, simple just click or it will automatically open on your device.

It is required that you always care a current Airport Diagram for your local airport, and for the airport you plan on flying to. It is good practice to care a few others for airports nearby, just in case you need to land for unforeseen reasons. (Weather, emergency, etc.)

TIP: Care a few paper copies of your local, nearby airports and destination airports, just in case your digital version doesn’t work. (We know from experience.)

NOTE: If you get ramp checked by an FAA Inspector, they may ask to see your current charts.

Understanding the Airport Diagram

Let’s take a look at a basic Airport Diagram for Chino airport below, and we will get familiar with what it tells us.

Click to download picture Chino Airport Diagram, to take notes.

First, we will go over two very basic but important parts.

  1. TITLE AND AIRPORT NAME - At the top of the diagram, it is rather self-explanatory. On the left in bold letters is the title “AIRPORT DIAGRAM”. On the right is the name of the airport (airport identifier) and the city and state.

  2. SW, DATE’S - Region and date of the diagram, it is located on both sides. It will show the region (SW – Southwest, NW – Northwest, PAC –Pacific U.S. Islands, etc.) the airport is located. Followed by two dates, which are valid from this date through this date.

    • Airport Diagrams come out every 56 Days, just like sectional charts.

Moving on to the main portion of the Airport Diagram.

3. RADIO FREQUENIES - The communication frequencies are listed for the airport starting with the ATIS, Tower, and Ground. (Other airports may have other frequencies such as, CTAF and Clearance Delivery). To the right of the Tower is an (*) Asterisk, meaning the tower is part time operation.

4. BUILDING – Shows the layout of the building or hangers. The location of an FBO, Terminal and other important facilities may also be shown (Fire Station, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, FSDO, etc.).

5. CONTROL TOWER (TWR) – Normal will be located on the edge of the building area. If it has a star above the TWR initials, it means the airport beacon is on top. (Airport beacon maybe located in another location) The elevation of the tower is below in MSL.

6. FIELD ELEVATION - The field elevation is labeled in a box in MSL, and points to a white dot (on any particular runway) which is the location of the highest point.

6A. TOUCHDOWN ZONE ELEV. – At the end of each runway, the touch down zone elevation is shown.

7. NORTH ORIENTATION – True and Magnetic North orientation arrows. It will show the latest change and by how much. (Ever airport will have a different orientation).

8. NONE MOVMENT AREA – These areas are where aircraft are parked, and you don’t need to talk to ATC ground to move aircraft around. It is courtesy to let ATC know, so they can coordinate with other aircraft wanting to enter and park.

9. HOT SPOT – Brown labels with HS (Hot Spot). More on Hot Spots below.

Hot Spot’s:

A Hot Spot is an area on the movement area of the airport that has a history or has a potential risk of an aircraft collision or runway incursion.

NOTE: Pilots must pay close attention when taxiing in this Hot Spot areas.

On FAA Airport Diagrams Hot spots are highlighted in brown, whereas if you Jeppesen Charts Hot Spots are highlighted in red and labeled as HS1. If multipole Hot Spot are shown the numbers will be different (HS1, HS2, and so on) shown on the Airport Diagram.

In the Chino Airport example, there are four Hot Spots.

To find information on each Hot Spot for any given airport, follow the link. Airport Diagram Hot Spots.


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