PDFPlates.com will be shutting down on 20 September, 2012, at the expiration of the 1209 cycle. This decision has been churning in the back of my mind for about six months, and it is finally time to pull the plug. The reasons include
- Declining use – as technology evolves, folks understandably migrate to other solutions. Even I don’t use my own stuff anymore. I know there are many of you that rely on PDFPlates as your primary source of procedures, and I’m sorry if this leaves you hanging. Hopefully this advance notice will give you time to find a suitable alternative.
- Lack of user support- despite tens of thousands of downloads per month, the website has been running in the red for about a year. To the regular contributors, I am grateful for your support along the way, and we wouldn’t have made it this far without you.
- The coming FAA digital content fees – while this issue has been cited as the reason for many other sites shutting down, I can’t say it is at the top of my list, but it is a part of the reason. Primarily, it would alienate the user base of PDFPlates, who have come to expect something for free. But, secondarily, the infrastructure and headache that implementing this would require just isn’t worth it. I’ve also realized through my interactions with the Aeronautical Charting Office that these folks are poorly equipped to shepherd a transition for this growing industry. The “printing press” mindset will not translate into the digital age and I fear it will be rough for lots of young companies.
- Loss of passion – turning your hobby into a business is the surest way to destroy it for you. As the website ramped up about four years ago, my flying declined. The construction of my experimental airplane ground to an absolute halt. At first, it was lucrative enough that I didn’t mind so much, but now it is time to return to what I really love about aviation.
This has been a fantastic journey that has taught me so much about programming, business, and the aviation community. Most of it has been positive. There are lots of folks out there to thank, but too many to list here. I’ve truly enjoyed the friendships I’ve made along the way and I hope to meet you again.