Does anyone know where can I find the legend for the symbols used by SkyVector's Sectional Chart for places outside the US? The US symbols are well documented but other places (e.g. the United Kingdom charts) seem to use a different set of symbols and line strokes for airspace classes.

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    $\begingroup$ IMO Skyvector is not very good for VFR outside of the US. It is clear their chart design is made specifically to match US airspace structure. When applied in other countries with different ways of doing airspace, they show a lot of stuff that is not relevant, and also miss some really important stuff. My point is, I don't think there is a separate legend, because they seem to (try to) apply the exact same style everywhere, even if it is not appropriate $\endgroup$ Feb 21, 2021 at 7:08
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    $\begingroup$ If you’re after decent VFR eCharts then you could do worse than SkyDemon Light. Plot your route and altitude and it’ll tell you all the airspace you’re bonging. $\endgroup$
    – Arkhem
    Feb 21, 2021 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ Europe adheres to ICAO conventions (Europe played a major role in ICAO creation), e.g. the 1/500,000 ICAO maps. The related legend in En and Fr. VFR chart snapshot of Paris area. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Feb 22, 2021 at 21:50
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you all for the replies. @mins The ICAO map you linked clearly show the different airspaces, unlike SkyVector -- that has cleared it up a lot. I wonder why SkyVector even bothers offering maps outside the US when the aeronautical information is so unclear, particularly in relation to airspaces. $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2021 at 11:22
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    $\begingroup$ @gilbertohasnofb, I suppose for IFR it is usable(ish) (though I can't tell how accurate their IFR layers are; but they are getting updated). $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Feb 23, 2021 at 11:33

1 Answer 1


Aeronautical agencies in Europe countries, not limited to European Union, and now Eurocontrol adhere to ICAO conventions more strictly than the US, this is historical as some European countries played a major role in ICAO creation.

Differences between FAA and ICAO approaches translate into the wording and the documentation. In accordance with Chicago Convention, these differences are listed in the country AIP, at section GEN 1.7 (examples: UK AIP, US AIP).

ICAO is an organization to facilitate international traffic, not domestic traffic, therefore it mostly deals with IFR matters, but there is some guidance for VFR too.


The 1/500,000 VFR map is recommended and its characteristics are described in Annex 4 of the Chicago Convention, at chapter 17. The legend is described in appendix 2. The chart shown below, and its legend are compliant with Annex 4.

About annex 4, the US AIP tells us: "Charts vary in their conformance to ICAO Standards" This explains why US Sectional charts at SkyVector are different from charts covering Europe.

ICAO compliant maps are usually not public domain. In France maps are produced and published by a semi-administrative agency, the Institut Géographique National (IGN), in collaboration with the Service d'Information Aéronautique (SIA) in charge of the local AIP. They are commercial products, SkyVector cannot directly reuse them, but they can reuse public basic aeronautical information and open map bases.

In contrast, the French administration, probably by an effect of its infinite generosity, makes 1/500.000 ICAO VFR maps public via the GIS site used for various topographic/land information and aerial views.

ICAO and SkyVector versions of the same area (around Bordeaux).

ICAO 1/500.000 VFR map, SW area of France
ICAO 1/500.000 VFR map, France SW area

SkyVector shows a version which is significantly simplified (source: SkyVector):

SkyVector sectional map, SW of France SkyVector sectional map, same area

A notable difference is prohibited and dangerous areas drawn in red for the ICAO flavor. SkyVector lacks indications for activities like parachuting, and frequencies for ATC within controlled areas.

The map base is also a bit simplified, the Gironde estuary is missing though it's the continent largest (surrounded by famous vineyards, used to ferry parts by Airbus, Dassault or Ariane Espace, and also one of the places where surfers can ride a tidal bore).

The ICAO legend (a fragment showing airspace depiction, the full legend is here):

ICAO VFR map legend
ICAO VFR map legend

VAC: VFR approach charts

If addition of 1/500.000 maps, detailed VAC are publicly accessible in the AIP for visual approach, E.g. the visual approach for Mérignac:

VAC Mérignac VAC Mérignac


IFR enroute charts, the counterpart of Sectional and ICAO VFR charts are publicly available in the AIP, at section 2.


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