Jeppesen is a name long known in aviation circles. Ever since the early 1930’s when Elrey Borge Jeppesen started making his own charts for his personal use, every pilot that saw them wanted to use them. At the time, Jeppesen was a pilot for Varney airlines which later became United. Elrey Jeppesen recognized an opportunity when he saw it and started selling his book of charts for $10 and pilots starting making their own contributions so his collection grew. In the late 1930’s Jeppesen stopped flying for United as a captain and focused on his chart business which had now become a full time business.
The government prints their own IFR charts through the NOS and if you are a military trained pilot, you were trained with and fly with these NOS charts. If you fly for a commercial airline or charter service you will most likely get your training on and use the Jeppesen product. In years past the differences were more apparent between the two. Jeppesen charts were more consistent from region to region so once you learned their language you could look at any chart and recognize the pertinent data without difficulty.
Jeppesen charts were printed on better quality paper that was thicker and whiter, they had larger graphics and they were loose leaf so you could arrange a trip pack with just your pertinent charts rather than flipping through the entire NOS booklet. In the past ten years the NOS charts have started using a whiter recycled paper and now offers loose leaf charts in addition to the booklets. One advantage of NOS charts nowadays is that since they are government issue, you can access them for free over the internet. Jeppesen is a private company so you pay for what you use. The arguments between using these two products continues and really depends on what you were trained on and your own personal preference for appearance.
Jeppesen and Microsoft have had a relationship since FS2000, with Jeppesen supplying the data used for placing navigation data and airport information as well as displaying this information in MSFS’s GPS. There were a small sample of Jeppesen approach charts included on the FS2000 CD which could be used in conjunction with some of the included flights. Jeppesen also introduced the original SimCharts program which was designed to be used in conjunction with FS2000 and was reviewed by Doug Horton for AVSIM at the time.
In the release version of FS2002, they started including a little demo applet that would display an approach chart for a limited number of airports on top of the FS2002 display that would track your flightpath for comparison purposes. The idea was if you really liked this applet, you would purchase the full version on CD which would open up a full region and, depending on how much you wanted to spend, you could purchase charts for the entire US.
With each subsequent version of MSFS, Jeppesen has updated its Simcharts product to correlate with the data within the related version of MSFS. The good news was this product would accurately correspond to the GPS data and navigation data within MSFS. The bad news was that it was only good for in-game use with the specific version of MSFS that it was designed for and if you updated your GPS data or added sceneries with updated airport data, you were stuck with the time era charts Simcharts shipped with.
The current version is version 4 and it departs from the earlier version in two ways. It is no longer offered in region specific packages. The last version, V3 for FS2004, was available in one or three region packages and to cover the entire world you would need to purchase all three region CD’s which was expensive.
It is now an internet based subscription service so you have to be connected to the internet to use it. This is a very effective way to cut down on the piracy issue so you can’t let your “friends” use your purchased copy. The original press release and first few months of sales had this subscription on an annual basis. Jeppesen did change that to a one time fee for as long as you wanted to use it in FSX, which was a good move since the data is static and not updated. The other difference from earlier versions is the subscription service covers the entire world.
Now for roughly the cost of one 3 region CD you can have worldwide coverage which is a welcome change. Part of the fun of MSFS if being able to fly basically anything, anywhere, anytime.
Installation and Documentation
You make your purchase of Jeppesen Simcharts v4.0 over the internet on Jeppesen’s website which will then direct you to where to download your product from. You will also need to create a logon and password for Jeppesen which you will use when you register your purchase.
Once installed you have the ability to open Simcharts as a freestanding program and review charts or if you are flying in FSX, you will notice a new menu selection for Jeppesen Simcharts which will open a window which will sit on top of your FSX display and operates the same way as the standalone application.
The first time you open Jeppesen SimCharts within FSX you will get the security warning we have all learned to love and use, just press “run” and then designate “simcharts.exe” as trusted software. If you are opening this program for the first time within FSX, you will also be greeted by the request for your username and password to verify you are who you are.
The graphic user interface (GUI) is very intuitive and easy to follow and a few minutes of clicking your way around, you have a very good feel for using the program. If you are using a second (or third) monitor, you have the ability to drag and drop this window over to that other monitor freeing up your main view window.
Using Jeppesen Simcharts
I already stated that I found the GUI very intuitive and easy to use. You can click on an icon to open, rotate views, even split the view of approach charts. You can drag and click across a portion of the chart to zoom in on a specific area and then right click and reset the zoom. If you prefer, you can use the right click menu box to make all your changes. Since a picture says a thousand words I’ll show you…
SimCharts in Action
I am in the process of studying for my IFR exam. I know, I’ve been licensed for over twenty years and when I first got my license I thought, I won’t need an IFR license. The majority of my flying in the 80’s was more like today’s sport pilot privileges in a two-seat day VFR aircraft in San Diego where you can count the IFR days/year on one hand.
Now living in Portland, Oregon it seems the ratio is almost reversed! You cherish a good VFR day and many of the times that I can find to go flying, the weather is not cooperating. I signed up for American Flyers I-Pass IFR online ground school and in addition purchased a wonderful set of FS9/FSX designed adventures that American Flyers calls their IFR refresher courseware. It is a rather expensive set of courseware, so if you are a simmer you’re gonna freak at the price.
For a real pilot, it represents the cost of three to four hours of air work with an instructor by your side but gives over 11 hours of simulated instruction and the ability to fly them again and again and again… a relative value in my book.
I’m going to take you along on three types of approaches which will cover using SimCharts for reality type flying in real IFR weather with winds and low visibility. We’ll do a GPS non-precision approach, a VFR non-precision approach and finally a full ILS all flown by hand, not with the autopilot, and tracked on the SimCharts.
Summary / Closing Remarks
I personally like this product and found it very easy to use. Is it for everybody? I don’t think so. The argument will rise that you can download all the NOS charts for free and print them out using them on a kneeboard or stuck up next to the computer monitor. You can even view them in a second window on your monitor and I know simmers that view them inserting them into the virtual kneeboard.
That won’t give you Jeppesen charts (snobbish smile crosses pilot’s face) and it won’t give you a tracking line to follow or view later. On the other hand, with this product you are stuck with FSX era charts with no plans to revise/update or allow user made/downloaded charts. So if you are flying online and the area you are flying in is using a newer set of procedures, you’ll probably get all uncomfortable as the controller wannabe on the other end scolds you for not being properly prepared.
Understand that I find this hang up with absolutely fresh current charts when the sim’s own navdata and airports are a static snapshot in time is a little silly. I would love to see a future plan for user choice of updated current charts (expect a fee for this) along with keeping use of the existing static charts for the one time fee.
The program I
actually miss is Georges Lorsches Final Approach. If someone could find a
way to combine the features of these two programs, I think that
would be an all around winner for all involved.
What I Like About Jeppesen SimCharts v4
What I Don't Like About Jeppesen SimCharts v4
Tell A Friend About this Review!
All Rights Reserved