Annex 4 – Aeronautical Charts


Developed by ICAO, the International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) contained in the nineteen Technical Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (also called Chicago Convention) are applied universally and produce a high degree of technical uniformity which has enabled international civil aviation to develop in a safe, orderly and efficient manner.


Aeronautical charts are maps used for navigation by pilots of aircraft. They generally have contour lines and emphasize higher relief such as mountains by use of color shading. They also show airways and airway distances, navigational facilities, radio aids to navigation, airports, controlled airspace, restricted areas, selected populated places, large bodies of water and major drainage patterns, distinctive landmarks, etc.


Jeppensen Airway Manual

Shortly after the Wright brothers made their historic first flights in the early 1900s, the skies began to fill with aircraft. Visibility was the key navigational tool at that time. Aircraft were limited to short flights in clear weather and used transportation routes and landmarks to navigate, flying low to the railroads during reduced visibility. Early pilots began making personal notes to help them navigate to and land at increasingly distant airports, and enterprising pilots sold these notes to other pilots, but air travel remained limited by visibility. Among those pioneers, Captain Elrey Berber Jeppesen (1907-1996) recorded and sketched all the landing sites, obstacles, and other significant features on the routes, when flying in the early 1930s; he even climbed hills to determine their height and got telephone numbers of farmers willing to provide weather reports. Captain Jeppesen then put the collected information into the form of a manual containing the well-known “Jepp Charts” and sold his first Airway Manual in 1934. The introduction of the Jeppesen Airway Manual contributed significantly to a reduction of operational accidents in the air transport field, since no government or airline aviation charts existed at that time. Captain Jeppesen is also the founder of the Jeppesen Company, which publishes letdown procedure charts, obstacles and other aeronautical information necessary for the safe conduct of flights.


In the 1930s, radio technology made it possible for pilots to navigate farther distances through unfamiliar surroundings in reduced visibility. In 1941, the first instrument approach and landing charts were developed, serving pilots with the need to land in low visibility.


It was clear that standardized products and symbols were needed to support international air travel. According to Article 37 of the Convention Relating To The Regulation Of Aerial Navigation (Paris Convention) signed at Paris on 13 October 1919, among its various duties, the International Commission for Air Navigation (ICAN) shall ensure the publication of maps for air navigation in accordance with the provisions of Annex F - Aeronautical Maps and Ground Signs. In December 1934, ICAN published the first Sheet of Basic Aeronautical Map intended for the preparation of routes and to be used also if necessary for the publication of aeronautical information of general interest. ICAN developed regulations concerning the international employment of symbols and terms used in aeronautical technology.


Annex 4 – Aeronautical Charts

At the Chicago Conference in 1944, drafts of twelve technical Annexes were completed to serve as a guide to world-wide practice pending the coming into force of the Convention on International Civil Aviation and then their formal adoption by the ICAO Council and then acceptance by States. Among those Annexes, Annex J - Aeronautical Maps and Charts takes its origin in Annex F adopted in the Paris Convention.


Established by the ICAO Council, the Aeronautical Chart Division held its first three sessions in November 1945, in April 1946 and in January 1947 respectively. International Standards and Recommended Practices for Aeronautical Charts were first adopted by the ICAO Council on 16 April 1948 and were designated as Annex 4 – Aeronautical Charts. They became applicable on 1 March 1949. Annex 4 provisions have evolved considerably from the seven original ICAO chart types adopted in 1948. The Standards, Recommended Practices and explanatory notes contained in Annex 4 define the obligations of States to make available certain ICAO aeronautical chart types, and specify chart coverage, format, identification and content, including standardized symbols and colour guides.


ICAO is constantly monitoring, improving and updating aeronautical chart specifications, to ensure that aeronautical charts meet the technological and other requirements of modern aviation operations. The goal is to satisfy the need for uniformity and consistency in the provision of aeronautical charts that contain appropriate information of a defined quality.


ICAO has developed the Aeronautical Information Regulation and Control (AIRAC) system (which steps from the Annex 15 - Aeronautical Information Services (AIS) document); it defines a series of common effective dates to ensure that all aircraft are flying on the same data worldwide. Depending on the region of the world, this cycle is effective every 28 days or multiples of 28 days. It is easy to see how a map of the world's airports and airways updated every 28 days and limited by international standards, can become a huge challenge. When a published aeronautical chart contains “ICAO” in its title, this indicates that the chart producer has conformed to both general Annex 4 Standards and those pertaining to a particular ICAO chart type.


Official service cover sent by the Malaysian Government to ICAO AIS/MAP (Aeronautical Information and Charts) Section, which supervises the Cartographic Unit. Amongst its duties, the AIS/MAP Section undertakes studies and provides guidance relating to aeronautical information services (AIS) and aeronautical charts (MAP); provides technical expertise on the AIS and MAP subjects to the Assembly, Council and the Air Navigation Commission (ANC). Cover cancelled on 24 October 1975.


Hungary – 13 January 1994 - 50th Anniversary of ICAO

Douglas DC-2-120 from American Airlines (indicated DC-3 on the stamp; US registered NC14278, indicated on the upper-right wing) over Jeppesen Low Altitude Enroute Chart (Budapest-Bratislava region).



Cyprus – 21 November 1994 - 50th Anniversary of ICAO.

Block of 4 stamps and

Maximum card with the chart of the Nicosia Flight Information Region (FIR), as shown on the stamp.


Cyprus – 21 November 1994 - 50th Anniversary of ICAO.

Philatelic card with Airbus A310-231 of Cyprus Airways, registered 5B-DAT in Cyprus - Nicosia Flight Information Region (FIR).


31st Session of ICAO Assembly - 19 September to 4 October 1995

The cachet depicts an extract of a Jeppesen Low Altitude Enroute Chart (Boston region).

Cover autographed by Capt. Jeppesen. In 1995, the 29th Edward Warner Award was bestowed upon Captain Elrey Berber Jeppesen, USA, for the development of international civil aviation and air navigation in particular.


Commemorative cover issued for the 12th Air Navigation Conference

held from 18 to 30 November 2012 (AN-Conf/12).

A few highlights regarding this envelope:

  1. The stamp features the ICAO emblem in white on a blue background. The Picture Postage or personalized stamp was specially created for this Conference.
  2. The postmark, showing an airport and an aircraft taking off, was prepared in cooperation with Canada Post Corporation.
  3. The general layout on the left-side (i.e. named “cachet”) simulates the tail of an aircraft. The background of this design depicts a cut of the Enroute Low Altitude Chart over the region of Montréal.