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Maps Produced By The U.S. Government: Nautical & Aeronautical Charts

The United States government is a significant producer of maps. This guide covers the major types of maps produced and how best to access them in print or online.

What are charts?

Nautical and aeronautical charts are maps created to aide in navigation of watercraft and aircraft, respectively.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) publishes nautical charts and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) publishes aeronautical charts.

Print Maps @ UIC

Nautical and aeronautical charts are held in the Maps Unit as well as the Government Documents section of the library. Check the library catalog for location and availability. The online tools listed on this page may be used to determine the chart(s) needed prior to scheduling a visit.

Print maps held by the Maps Unit are accessible by request in the Maps Unit during Special Collections hours.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) publishes nautical charts.

Nautical charts are maps of maritime areas and coastal regions. Charts may show water depth, topography of the land, seabed features, coastline details, navigational aids, navigational hazards, structures such as harbors, buildings, and bridges, and information on tides, currents, and Earth’s magnetic field. Nautical charts produced by NOAA are available in print or electronically.

Note: Not all charts available are fit for navigation. Charts may be used for planning voyages, analysis, or research purposes, such as studying a changing coastline.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) publishes aeronautical charts. Aeronautical charts produced by the FAA are available in print or electronically.

Aeronautical charts are maps used for flight navigation. Charts of different scales depict different information.

  • World aeronautical charts (WAC) have a scale of 1:1,000,000. WACs show topography, airports, and radio navigation aids.
  • Sectional charts have a scale of 1:500,000 and cover approximately 340x340 miles. Sectional charts show topography, structures, airports, landmarks, obstructions, radio navigation aids, ground navigation aids, airspace classification, terminal area chart (TAC) coverage, and chart tabulations.
  • Terminal area charts (TAC) have a scale of 1:250,000 and show areas around major airports. TACs are more detailed but depict the same features as sectional charts. 

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Valerie Harris
Contact:
Daley Library, Room 3-330

801 S. Morgan St.

Chicago, IL 60607

Ph: 312/996-2742
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