Ingo Noka

Aeronautical Charts of Malaysian Airspace

In Airmanship, Gear on November 13, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Soviet Military Topographic Map

In South East Asia, Aeronautical VFR charts tend to be out of date or non-existent.   As with most General Aviation related services in this part of the world, this sorry state of affairs has to do with the very low demand.  There are simply not enough GA aircraft and pilots in Asia to make it worthwhile for anybody to spend money on many things that are taken for granted by pilots in the US or Europe.

Nevertheless, we make do with what we have and I have not heard of anybody getting lost in Malaysia because of a missing or inaccurate map.  Of course, the airspace is not as crowded as (I imagine) in most parts of the UK or Germany.

To alleviate the situation a bit, I have collected a couple of resources that can help fellow aviators in Malaysia to find their way around.  I would be very grateful if you could send me additional information or help me correct mistakes I may have made.  This blog entry is just an announcement of this new content on my website and any further changes will be made on this page.

The best source for maps that are semi-usable are the old TPC (1:500.000) and ONC (1:1.000.000) maps that the US military together with a few of their allies used to produce.  They don’t do this anymore, but there are many places on the Internet who sell these old maps in paper form or as scanned versions.  For South Malaysia you should be looking for L-10 (ONC) and L-10A, L-10B, L10-C and L-10D for the TPC charts.  L10A and L10B can be bought from some Internet shops, the other two, however, I have not been able to find. (Unfortunately, C and D are the ones that cover the interesting parts of South Malaysia and Singapore.)

Another, rather unexpected, source for maps of Malaysia is the Soviet Military.  Apparently the Soviets attempted to chart the entire world and succeeded to some extend.  Their maps are now available from Internet shops such as  “east view cartographic”. The Soviet Military Topographic maps come in scales of 1:1.000.000, 1:500.000 and 1:200.000.  Out of curiosity, I bought a 1:200.000 scale map of the area around Senai airport.  It turns out, for navigational purposes the map is only marginally usable.  First, you need to be able to read the Cyrillic alphabet, and secondly, many of the new features such as highways weren’t there when the map was produced.  Terrain, heights (in meters), coast lines, rivers and major settlements are accurate, however.  Maybe you can use the maps as a starting point for drawing your own map (“I know ….”).  Here is a small sample from the map I bought (Gunung Pulai, Kulai and Senai airport).

FRAS Flying club provides maps with Control Zones, TMAs and Airspaces added by hand. Not ideal, but for the IFR navigation exercises (using the compass, a stop watch and a fair amount of guess-work) the maps are sufficient (if you already know roughly were you are 😉 )

Of course, there are many online maps (Google, Bing, OpenStreetMap, OpenCycleMap) and various GPS devices that come with basic Terrain charts (I am planning to write about the use of the iPad for navigation in SEA later).  For the time being, I suggest to read my blog.  The trip reports usually  contain links to Google maps with flight tracks.)

Of course the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation is the first place anybody should go to in search for Malaysia Aeronautical charts.  Having said that, as far as I can tell the DCA Malaysia does not maintain World Aeronautical or Sectional Charts.  GEN 3.2-1 does not list them as available charts and GEN 1.7-3 (“Differences from ICA standards …”) specifically states that WAC are not produced.  It doesn’t say the same about Sectionals, but I do not know whether that is because the ICAO standards do not mention them either   The AIP contains Aerodrome charts, Aerodrome Obstacle Charts, En-Route Charts and the usual instrument arrival and departure plates.  The most helpful resources are the aerodrome charts (runways etc) in the AD section and the overview charts for prohibited, danger and restricted areas in the ENR section.  For VFR flights, “ENR3.5 – Other Routes”, is an absolute must, because it contains the VFR routes for the bigger airports in Malaysia.  On 7.11.2011 this document was downloadable here.

At the time of writing this (Nov 2011) there was a World Aeronautical Chart (WAC2860) of Singapore and Malaysia on the AIP web site of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.  Unfortunately, and very uncharacteristic for the Singapore government, this chart is wildly out of date.  For example, the restricted zone shown between Muar and Malacca does not exist anymore (and I suspect that’s been the case for a long time!)

The University of Texas makes Worldwide Operational Navigation Charts (ONC) available for download on their web site.  Clicking the respective chart in the map linked here, will download a high-resolution jpg of the ONC chart.

I have found two shops on the Internet, east view cartographic and Omnimap.com, that sell maps and charts including the Soviet Military maps, the ONC and the TPC charts.  Some of the maps can be bought and downloaded straight away.  Other charts can only be ordered as paper sheets.

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