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Old 16-11-2019, 06:14   #1
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NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

File image courtesy NOAA By The Maritime Executive 2019-11-15 21:16:56
On Friday, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Coast Survey announced plans to phase out the production of all traditional paper nautical charts.
Over the next five years, NOAA says that it plans to transition to electronic chart (ENC) products with a focus on improving data consistency and providing larger scale ENC coverage. This process includes replacing 1,200 irregular ENC cells on 130 different scales with a standardized grid system and set of 12 standard scales. It is expected to significantly improve the level of detail and consistency in NOAA's ENCs.
As it reorients its efforts towards electronic products, NOAA will gradually shut down services associated with traditional paper charts, including full-size chart PDFs, print-on-demand paper charts and NOAA raster charts (RNCs). The phase-out will start in mid- to late-2020 and be completed by January 2025.
NOAA will still provide access to paper chart products based on ENC data, either through third-party vendors or through the NOAA Custom Chart system (now in prototype phase). The online NOAA Custom Chart (NCC) application lets users create their own paper charts with NOAA ENC data. The user can define the scale and size of custom-made nautical charts, then download them in a special PDF format.
The phaseout of traditional paper products reflects broader trends in the industry. The IMO now requires that all large commercial vessels on international voyages use electronic charts. In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard started allowing commercial vessels on domestic voyages to use ENCs instead of paper charts. Electronic products are also increasingly popular with recreational users.
It is, however, a break with tradition. NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has produced traditional paper charts for nearly 200 years, and these products been the primary source of navigational information for generations of American mariners.
Comments on the decision may be submitted through NOAA’s online feedback tool.
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Old 16-11-2019, 08:19   #2
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

Interesting, thanks for posting!

Not really a huge surprise; the handwriting has been on the wall for a while now.

The dirty little secret that nobody talks about is the massive loss of data that's on the paper and RNC charts, but not on ENCs.

Look at an old chart; every port, harbor, cove, hamlet and village is identified. Roads and buildings on shore are shown. Swamps, bogs, lowlands, tiny streams, hills and cliffs, even distant mountains which are visible from the ocean are included.

The biggest loss, in my opinion, is the geographical names. Sure, the big ports, cities and towns are there. But millions of smaller place names were simply never digitized. This "local knowledge" can be extremely helpful along an unfamiliar coast. I live in fear of the day I need to call a Mayday off an unmarked coast. Sure, I can give Lat/Lon if my GPS is still working (and not spoofed - see the thread on that.) But it's really, really helpful to include a place name that locals who may be in a position to help might recognize.
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Old 16-11-2019, 09:28   #3
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

Just finished spending an hour using the chart maker webpage. First, it is not touch screen friendly. But playing with it on the Mac it is rather handy. The web portal is powered by ESRI, the leader in GIS. It would not be too hard for them to migrate any missing information from other GIS databases.

IMHO the big issue will be transitioning users to the new format. As an iNavx and Navionics user, I got used to moving back and forth. But guys who only use RNC charts better start practicing!
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Old 16-11-2019, 09:44   #4
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

So their budget will be reduced accordingly?
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Old 16-11-2019, 10:14   #5
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

Evolution is becoming precarious. IMHO, we're really setting ourselves up for some major potential disasters. All this fundamental and absolute dependence on a source of reliable electrical supply, functional electronic hardware, and the internet for even basic infrastructure could really go bad. It's completely reliable, and works almost magically - until it doesn't for some reason. Then, everything crashes. Imagine credit cards, debit cards, and bank account balances flummoxed due to satellite issues, supply chains in disarray, and the "cloud" going kaput. The one eyed man with an antique paper chart is King.
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Old 16-11-2019, 10:23   #6
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

Cant say I'm happy with this, seems like were just asking for problems down the road as GPS reception can be tinkered with. Its like when they ended loran use, they tore down many of the installations. Why not keep them just in case?
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Old 16-11-2019, 11:32   #7
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

Ya'll can still print or have printed as many charts as you want, if paper gives you a warm and fuzzy. I would recommend those with worries that they'll simultaneously have a mayday and encounter GPS spoofing and not be able to tell anyone where you are that you stay away from airplanes, either flying in or standing below one in the air. We've been flying around at 500 knots for years now without paper.

Serving in a sea service as a pilot it always bemused me that the guy's poking around at 12 knots were the last ones to adopt new navigation technology and had to be dragged along kicking and screaming about how "unsafe" it was, meanwhile they're routinely running into other ships and running aground because they insist on an archaic system of paper charts, 20 person bridge and CIC team, and line of position fixes taken on alidaides or in the case of the really crazy ones, celestial nav fixes. Meanwhile we managed to find the ship to land on it and not hit anything in the interim going orders of magnitude faster with one or two pilots and and electronic nav systems.
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Old 16-11-2019, 11:52   #8
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

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Originally Posted by redneckrob View Post
Ya'll can still print or have printed as many charts as you want, if paper gives you a warm and fuzzy. I would recommend those with worries that they'll simultaneously have a mayday and encounter GPS spoofing and not be able to tell anyone where you are that you stay away from airplanes, either flying in or standing below one in the air. We've been flying around at 500 knots for years now without paper.

Serving in a sea service as a pilot it always bemused me that the guy's poking around at 12 knots were the last ones to adopt new navigation technology and had to be dragged along kicking and screaming about how "unsafe" it was, meanwhile they're routinely running into other ships and running aground because they insist on an archaic system of paper charts, 20 person bridge and CIC team, and line of position fixes taken on alidaides or in the case of the really crazy ones, celestial nav fixes. Meanwhile we managed to find the ship to land on it and not hit anything in the interim going orders of magnitude faster with one or two pilots and and electronic nav systems.
The nav systems in planes is a wee bit different than in most boats.

I’d say the largest miscreant in our GPS system is our own government with all their interference testing. Luckily they do publish when and where this is going to happen.

Biggest issue I have with the paper chart thing is I am paying these people the same money and they are providing LESS service.
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Old 16-11-2019, 13:42   #9
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

We cruise the Caribbean. I never go anywhere without a chart book. It is open to the gps position as we transit. They are much more convenient than the bed sheet NOAA paper. I will not miss those wall posters a bit. I like to confirm what I see including depth and navigation markers agrees with the charts. Chart books are a much better way to plan. Zipping around on an 8-inch monitor to plan your rout and stops is ineffective to say the least.

Last I knew, Canada required paper charts. I’m sure there are other places too.
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Old 16-11-2019, 16:27   #10
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

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The nav systems in planes is a wee bit different than in most boats.

I’d say the largest miscreant in our GPS system is our own government with all their interference testing. Luckily they do publish when and where this is going to happen.

Biggest issue I have with the paper chart thing is I am paying these people the same money and they are providing LESS service.
They're providing a different service. If one happens to like that or not doesn't change the fact that all the folks in that division of NOAA are still putting in a solid 40 hours of hard work every week same as last year or 10 years ago and they're providing vector chart services that they didn't provide 10 years ago meaning that the total services they provide are not less, just different. And as I pointed out, you can still print out or buy printed charts, seems an effective use of the private sector for a function that isn't inherently governmental to me. As a somewhat related aside, many products NOAA produces, weather predictions being the foremost example, are quantifiably significantly better than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Should we pay them more for that fact that we're getting more there, or does it only go one way?

And yes, we navigate airplanes using the same GPS system that boats use when we're 500 miles offshore. Not alot of VORs out there, and my helicopter didn't have INS, so GPS and NDB (RDF on ships) was all we had when operating from the ship.
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Old 16-11-2019, 16:36   #11
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

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Originally Posted by redneckrob View Post
They're providing a different service. If one happens to like that or not doesn't change the fact that all the folks in that division of NOAA are still putting in a solid 40 hours of hard work every week same as last year or 10 years ago and they're providing vector chart services that they didn't provide 10 years ago meaning that the total services they provide are not less, just different. And as I pointed out, you can still print out or buy printed charts, seems an effective use of the private sector for a function that isn't inherently governmental to me. As a somewhat related aside, many products NOAA produces, weather predictions being the foremost example, are quantifiably significantly better than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Should we pay them more for that fact that we're getting more there, or does it only go one way?

And yes, we navigate airplanes using the same GPS system that boats use when we're 500 miles offshore. Not alot of VORs out there, and my helicopter didn't have INS, so GPS and NDB (RDF on ships) was all we had when operating from the ship.

You were flying IFR 135/121/Mil with a non WAAS, non panel mounted, non certified, non coupled GPS and no other means of nav onboard? Never seen that opspec before
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Old 16-11-2019, 16:37   #12
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

Were they going to print the charts in China to save money, but the tariffs were making them too expensive?
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Old 16-11-2019, 16:40   #13
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

Bam, you have exposed them Sir!
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Old 16-11-2019, 20:43   #14
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

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You were flying IFR 135/121/Mil with a non WAAS, non panel mounted, non certified, non coupled GPS and no other means of nav onboard? Never seen that opspec before
So first off how do you think we manage to pop out of the fog at 50' to rescue folks in the ocean where there's no ILS? More than once off San Francisco I've pulled into a 50' hover and had to bump it down to 35' before we saw the water. We routinely practiced and performed IFR approaches to the water both manually and coupled sometimes with nothing more than radar as a guide to our target along with GPS if we had a position.
More importantly, who said our system wasn't panel mounted (it was but wasn't WAAS) or coupled (it could be coupled but didn't have to be) and what in the world do any of those things have to do with paper charts and GPS failing by spoofing so you don't know where you are to make a mayday call (and what does IFR have to do with it, the poster didn't indicate they were in a cloud!) Or ships insisting on paper charts and fixes by adilade and celestial nav while poking around at 12 knots while we managed just fine with GPS?

As an aside, the Coast Guard doesn't ever operate under Part 121 or 135, those cover operation for hire and scheduled air service. We generally did operate under Part 91, however we had law enforcement and search and rescue exemptions, and the SAR exemption was pretty much do anything you think you can safely accomplish. And of course when you're 500 miles offshore you're under ICAO rules, right.
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Old 16-11-2019, 21:22   #15
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Re: NOAA Plans to Stop Producing Traditional Paper Charts

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Originally Posted by redneckrob View Post
So first off how do you think we manage to pop out of the fog at 50' to rescue folks in the ocean where there's no ILS? More than once off San Francisco I've pulled into a 50' hover and had to bump it down to 35' before we saw the water. We routinely practiced and performed IFR approaches to the water both manually and coupled sometimes with nothing more than radar as a guide to our target along with GPS if we had a position.
More importantly, who said our system wasn't panel mounted (it was but wasn't WAAS) or coupled (it could be coupled but didn't have to be) and what in the world do any of those things have to do with paper charts and GPS failing by spoofing so you don't know where you are to make a mayday call (and what does IFR have to do with it, the poster didn't indicate they were in a cloud!) Or ships insisting on paper charts and fixes by adilade and celestial nav while poking around at 12 knots while we managed just fine with GPS?

As an aside, the Coast Guard doesn't ever operate under Part 121 or 135, those cover operation for hire and scheduled air service. We generally did operate under Part 91, however we had law enforcement and search and rescue exemptions, and the SAR exemption was pretty much do anything you think you can safely accomplish. And of course when you're 500 miles offshore you're under ICAO rules, right.
Which was what I said.

Aviation systems were a looooooong ways from a dude with a plastic garmin clamped next to his helm.
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