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NEWS | April 12, 2021

DLA increases map production cycle, ensures safety in aircraft navigation

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Maps guide us where we need to go, but they are only as current as their last update. 

For many years, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation and DLA Distribution distributed updated map products to customers on a 168-day production cycle.  That changed in February when the Federal Aviation Administration determined that timeline was too long and could lead to safety issues in aeronautical navigation.

Edward Seaborne, Jr. and Carlton Drummond, both materials handlers from Defense Logistics Agency Distribution, prepare packages to mail mapping products to customers
Edward Seaborne, Jr, left, and Carlton Drummond, both materials handlers from Defense Logistics Agency Distribution, prepare packages to mail mapping products to customers March 30, 2021. The products were mailed April 6, 2021. The mapping product distribution cycle has increased from a 168-day cycle to a 56-day cycle to ensure navigators have the most current products to ensure flight safety. (Photo by Jackie Roberts)
Edward Seaborne, Jr. and Carlton Drummond, both materials handlers from Defense Logistics Agency Distribution, prepare packages to mail mapping products to customers
DLA increases map production cycle, ensures safety in aircraft navigation
Edward Seaborne, Jr, left, and Carlton Drummond, both materials handlers from Defense Logistics Agency Distribution, prepare packages to mail mapping products to customers March 30, 2021. The products were mailed April 6, 2021. The mapping product distribution cycle has increased from a 168-day cycle to a 56-day cycle to ensure navigators have the most current products to ensure flight safety. (Photo by Jackie Roberts)
Photo By: Jackie Roberts
VIRIN: 210330-D-D0441-1002
The cycle increased to a 56-day production cycle and impacts roughly 96 map products to include all sectional aeronautical visual flight rules, terminal area charts, VFR flyway planning, VFR aeronautical and helicopter route charts.

The Flight Information Publication frequency increased for many reasons, to include new wind power generators being constructed, design changes in airports and their runways, no fly zones, route changes and frequency with which pilots need to check in with air traffic controllers.

Julio Bultron is a FLIP program manager in the Mapping Division of DLA Aviation’s Customer Operations Directorate.  He said the team became aware of the changes about three months before the effective date.  They immediately began to proactively reach out to their government and other federal agency customers to revalidate requirements for digital and printed products as well as their counterparts in the Government Printing Office for contract changes to increase delivery orders. During the review, several customers decreased their hardcopy quantities because they increasingly rely on digital navigation means, such as ForeFlight and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Aeronatical Application.

One cycle has been fulfilled under the new 56-day production cycle. According to Jeff Farmer, chief of the division’s Inventory Branch, by proactively reaching out to update customer requirements before the new cycle became effective, the mapping division reduced requirements by 7%, saving $40,000 in printing and shipping costs. Cost-saving efforts are ongoing and more savings are expected as these cycles continue.

In terms of increased workload, Bultron said that with the shortened production cycle, mapping employees create procurements five times more frequently to meet demand.

DLA Aviation’s mapping division works together with DLA Distribution at Richmond to ensure the right quantity of maps reach customers when needed. 

DLA Distribution Facilities Manager Vincent Price has only been with DLA Distribution for about a year. 

Price said it has been a challenging year adjusting to such a complex organization; nevertheless, he is very appreciative of the efforts his team has made to accommodate the FAA’s production cycle change.

“During a production cycle we can process up to 36,000 customer requests within two weeks, with orders ranging from 1-500 maps per order,” Price said.  Faced with such a shortened production cycle, almost three times shorter, Price said he had to figure out how to get products shipped in a timely, cost effective manner, in a very limited amount of time.    

“We went from one shift working 8-hours, five days a week and a second shift working 10-hours, four days a week to two shifts working 8-hours, 5 days a week with overtime extending into the weekend,” he said.  “We have only worked one new cycle, but so far we did not have to incur additional transportation costs to meet our delivery timeline.”