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The National Airspace System (NAS) was created by the FAA to make the U.S. airspace safer for all aviation and to protect persons and property on the ground. It is a complex network of both controlled and uncontrolled airspace, including air navigation, airports, and the density of aircraft movement within.

The NAS has two categories of airspace:

  • regulatory

  • non-regulatory.

Under regulatory and non-regulatory categories there are four types of airspace:

  • Controlled airspace - which covers Class A, B, C, D and E​ airspace.

  • Uncontrolled airspace - which is Class G​ airspace.

  • Special Use - Military Operating Area, Warning Area, Alert Area and more.

  • Other Airspace - National Security Area (NSA), TRSA, Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) and more.

Purpose of ATC

The primary purpose of Air Traffic Control (ATC) is to make our skies and everyone on the ground safe, by preventing collisions between aircraft, by maintaining a high degree of safety with strict regulations from the FAA. Also, to keep aircraft organized, maintain and expedite the flow of air traffic.

In addition, ATC can provide other services but can be limited by other factors, such as controller workload, higher priorities, and more.

Types of Airspace

Pilots are required to become familiar with the different types of airspace, and the requirements to operate within those airspaces. Each type of airspace is further broken down in detail which covers weather requirements, type of pilot certificate held, equipment requirements and more.


Airspace - Study Guide
Download PDF • 187KB

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