GeoCarta Has Moved

Dec 9, 2005

Airports' Digital Maps Get Failing Grade

Digital mapping systems at the country's biggest airports failed to meet approximately one-half of the standards established by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA), a recent study found. Students and faculty from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) and Morgan University spent a year studying the performance of airports in converting their old paper maps to digital.

The maps are supposed to adhere to standards set by the RTCA, a private, non-profit organization that advises the Federal Aviation Administration on navigation, and other issues.

Tito Aighewi, a data integration geospatial applications specialist at UMES, told the Delmarva Daily Times that on average, the digital maps omitted more than 50% of engineering features required by the RTCA. The Times quoted him as saying, "The level of compliance is not encouraging at this point, some features that ought to be in the database are missing."

Originally developed by NASA and widely used by the military, the digital mapping system is intended to guide pilots in limited visibility and improve safety.