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What sizes does the sectional charts are sold at?

I downloaded it from here, and was able to print it on a large format printer. https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/flight_info/aeronav/productcatalog/vfrcharts/Sectional/

As it is a TIFF image, based on the image resolution it ended up to be approximately 42" X 60". Which I believe is accurate as when one prints this way, based on the resolution, and the amount of pixels, it calculates the size by itself.

Which is good, however, I am looking for a standard size that the charts you buy come with, so I can verify what I printed. Also, give inputs to my printer, to print that paper size. If any of you have purchased a sectional chart, can you give me the size of it? Or even provide an image of the same.

I checked this Stackexchange link here: What's the standard print size for a sectional chart?

The answer over there is - 20 3/4" X 59 1/4". However that does not seem to be matching the size (aspect ratio) of TIFF images on the FAA website. It is exactly half of what it supposed to be. So any suggestions would be appreciated. Unless otherwise it is being folded.

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    $\begingroup$ The 1:500,000 scale is important if you want to use any of the standard tools with the sectional chart. $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Jun 11 at 6:56
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Erin Anne, sectional charts are more or less compliant with ICAO 1:500,000. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jun 11 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ I believe the issue with the aspect ratio is because the sectional is printed 2-sided with the north half on one side and the south half on the other. The TIFF file combines them. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Jun 12 at 2:50
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It is exactly half of what it supposed to be.

Sectionals are printed on both sides. The electronic copy contains the information that is on the front and back.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks that answers the question and confusion $\endgroup$ Jun 13 at 3:06
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Unfortunately, there are only two ways of printing a sectional for your uses with a standard plotter.

  1. Find a wide-format printer to print out the chart at the proper size.
  2. Print out only a part or a section of the sectional chart at the proper resolution.
  3. Buy an actual sectional chart. They are probably the cheapest things for which you will ever pay in aviation. Even if you laminate them (Marcels sells cheap self-service lamination and Vis-a-Vis markers). Some aviation/pilot shops will charge half price and even less for expiring or expired charts.

I think the issue that you are having is that you are confusing resolution, size, and scale.

  • Resolution roughly means detail and clarity when printed at the proper size. It is truly the number of pixels per unit of area based on the source material.
  • Size means the 2-dimensional area of the paper on which it was intended to be printed.
  • Scale simply means the ratio of the size of the printed object compared to the actual object.

They are all separate measurements.

The FAA website says “The files are 300 dots per inch and 8-bit color.” This only applies when printed on paper that is 20 3/4" X 59 1/4". Printing on smaller paper, theoretically, should give you greater resolution (which is not really the case). Even though it makes it harder to distinguish detail. Printing on larger paper will give you poorer resolution to the point that the image will be pixelated. Even though it may make it easier to distinguish detail up until pixelation of the images.

Think of it like watching Standard Definition programs on an 80” diagonal television. You will have the size. But not the resolution. The same is true for the opposite.

One option to try with a regular printer is to print the sectional at the proper resolution and size. Your printer probably uses regular 8.5x11” letter paper. It may have an option to use the original scale of the image and not scale to size. It may also have the option of how you want the image divided on the size of paper available. If you have a way of previewing the printed image as it would appear on paper (many printer programs do), you can choose which page(s) you wish to print.

As an aside, the sectionals used on the FAA (“written”) Knowledge Exams are also not to scale. You will have to measure your distances using the scale in the chart legend.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is all good info. I figured my question could use more detail, so I edited the question. $\endgroup$ Jun 11 at 22:28

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