I had a very useful phone call from the IAA regarding the 1:500k charts. The expected date for publication is November although as a change in airspace is being processed currently they are to make a decision this week as to whether to wait a few more weeks to cover this permanent airspace change or to just release it to the printers next week.
However some interesting details did emerge. There has not been allowance for consultation with pilots on the new chart however this was a decision that was not left in the hands of the chart staff themselves. This may not be as shocking as it first sounds. We were never consulted prior to the 1:250k consultation on chart details as far as I know and I was told the plan was to update these charts yearly from now on and that they will request submissions from the aviation public between now and the next version. I guess we have waited long enough for this and submissions from us would just delay this further. The old 1:500k chart contours were whited out below 500ft and the plan is to release two versions internally apparently one whited out below 200ft and another whited out again below 500ft. A 'few' staff with experience would then select either the 200ft or 500ft version. If you feel that for example you prefer a 200ft version over a 500ft one I guess you could still make your point heard on that.
The other thing people may want to give feedback on is apparently they are using the 1:250k base map which works great if you are of the hovering kind of aircraft and enjoy using charts that are this detailed but is often a hindrance more than a help to many fixed wing pilots. The delay in getting them out has had a lot lately to do with having to scale up topographical details and labels on the chart and which to leave in, which to leave out and which to place in a different position. I think it is a little like the decisions Google Maps make when you zoom them out. That is they leave off detail the bigger the scale. In this case the software though did not do a good job and it is being dealt with manually. The point to make here (and one I forgot to discuss at the time) is if there will still be too much detail at this scale or are some unworkable features like 'b' roads going to be left in.
They will have CAA NI aeronautical information on them which is a relief to know I guess.
The final thing is they plan to release only a laminated version, the lightest they could get from the printers.
I suggested that if they do seek responses after publication that they publish this not just on their website but also in a magazine like FII as I am certain they are missing a lot of feedback from people who do not go anywhere near an email.
I also understand that perhaps a chart centred on your local licensed aerodrome on a 1:100k scale could be produced (a little like current approach charts) and then made available for purchase to local flying clubs for local flying. These charts would seek consultation first.
Anyhow the firstname.lastname@example.org
email is still there if you wish to make further comment before they sit down at the end of this week. I realise it is hard to do so without seeing them but the one point that the man made to me was they need feedback. That is if one person only makes the case for this or that then it doesn't hold much weight but if say 40 or 50 people make the case then that is a better situation. I guess a petition could be arranged. I happen to know NASRAv did make a submission on the 1:250k chart but I guess not this time around as it seems we have not been consulted at all on this one.
It only takes two things to fly:--- airspeed and money.