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Class E (Echo) airspace is controlled airspace by ATC using radar coverage. This is also the most confusing airspace to understand. Visual Flight Rules (VFR) pilots are not required to have a clearance to fly in Echo airspace. Whereas Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) pilots or Special VFR pilots can receive an instrument clearance from ATC since the airspace is controlled.

Airspace Dimensions:

Echo airspace exists below 18,000 feet MSL and where Class B, C, D, and G airspace does not. The airspace will either start at the 700 feet AGL, 1,200 feet AGL or 14,500 feet MSL. Confused yet? Don’t worry we will break it down Echo airspace.

TIP: Echo airspace is everywhere in the United States. Think of Class 'E' - E for everywhere, from either 700 feet or 1,200 feet AGL up to but not including 18,000 (17,999) feet MSL.

Around Airports

First let’s start off with Echo airspace around airports.

  • Within the dashed magenta area class E starts at the surface around an airport to protect IFR traffic on the instrument approach.

  • In some cases, echo airspace is identified by a magenta dashed box attached to a Class Delta airspace airport which starts at the surface and extends up to 17,999 feet MSL or the next overlying controlled airspace.

  • As we discussed in the Class G airspace lesson, inside the thick faded magenta class G airspace is from the surface up to 699 ft. This is also where class E airspace starts at 700 feet AGL.

Echo Everywhere

Now if you notice that there are a lot of light blue lines with the letter ‘V’ and numbers. These are called federal airways, known as Victor airways. Victor airways are protected by E airspace which starts at 1,200 feet AGL up to 17,999 feet MSL. Above that the floor of Class A (Alpha) airspace begins at 18,000 feet MSL.

Inside the thick blue faded lines (faded side)

  • Victor airway V 319 starts at 1,200 feet AGL and extends up to Class A airspace.

  • Below the Victory airway is Class G airspace, surface up to the floor of Class E airspace.

Outside of the thick blue faded lines (dark side)

  • Class G airspace which starts from the surface and extends up to 14,500 feet.

  • Class E starts at 14,500 feet and extends up to 17,999 feet MSL, not including 18,000 feet MSL which is the floor of Class A airspace.

Echo Offshore

Lastly, we have Class E airspace offshore which are called Offshore Airspace Areas, shown on sectional charts by a dark blue zipper line. Echo airspace is from a specified altitude up to, but not including 18,000 feet MSL and extends 12 miles off the coastline of the U.S.

Entry Requirements:

  • None required

  • ADS-B required

Weather Minimums:

VFR Below 10,000 feet MSL

  • 3 Statute Mile visibility

  • 152 – 1,000 ft above, 500 ft below, 2,000 ft horizontally

VFR Above 10,000 feet MSL

  • 5 -111

    • 5 - 5 Statute Miles visibility

    • 111 - 1,000 ft above, 1,000 ft below, 1 Statute Mile horizontally


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