Airspace (Private Pilot)

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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 and non-regulatory.

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

  • Controlled

  • Uncontrolled

  • Special Use

  • Other airspace

 

CLASS A (Alpha) Airspace

  • Class A airspace covers the entire Earth.

  • Airspace between 18,000 feet MSL up to 60,000 feet or FL600 (FL - Flight Level)

    • Extends over the waters 12 NM off the coast in the lower 48 states and Alaska.​​

  • All aircraft must set altimeter to 29.92

  • Mode S transponder

Entry Requirements:

  • Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) Only

Weather Minimums:

  • No VFR, IFR flight only

CLASS B (Bravo) Airspace:

  • Bravo airspace surrounds the busiest airports in the nation, such as:

    • LAX​ (Los Angeles)

    • San Diego

    • DFW (Dallas Fort Worth)

    • Miami

    • Chicago​

  • Airspace shown by solid blue line's ​ ​​

  • Student pilots must have an endorsement in there logbook from a CFI.

Class B Dimensions

  • Airspace from the Surface (SFC) to 10,000 feet MSL

  • Customizable shape airspace. Some look like an "upside down wedding cake".

Entry Requirements

  • 2-way communication with ATC

  • Clearance from ATC to enter Class Bravo

    • MUST HEAR the words from ATC "Cessna RHA123 Cleared into Class Bravo airspace".

    • If you do not here the words from ATC, you CAN NOT enter Class Bravo airspace.

    • If ATC responds back with "RHA123, Standby". You CAN NOT enter Class Bravo airspace, even though 2-way communication has been established with ATC.

  • Mode C Transponder

Weather Minimums

  • 3 Statue Miles Visibility

  • Clear of Clouds

 

CLASS C (Charlie) Airspace:

  • Charlie airspace surrounds airports that have an operating control tower and are less congested, such as:

    • Santa Barbara​, CA

    • John Wayne, CA

    • Oakland, CA

    • Portland, OR

    • Shown by solid magenta line's ​

    • Student pilots can fly in Class C

Class C Dimensions

  • Airspace from the Surface (SFC) to 4,000 feet AGL.

  • The surface area has a 5 NM (nautical mile) radius

  • The upper shelf has a 10 NM radius.

    • It extends from 1,200 feet AGL up to 4,000 feet AGL.

 

Entry Requirements

  • 2 way radio communication with ATC

  • Must hear your tail number from ATC.

    • If you do not hear your tail number from ATC, you CAN NOT enter Class Charlie airspace​

    • If ATC responds back with "RHA123, Standby". You may enter Class Charlie airspace, because 2-way communication has been established with ATC.

  • Mode C Transponder

Weather Minimums

  • 3 Statue Miles Visibility

  • 152 - 1,000ft above, 500ft below, 2,000ft horizontal.

CLASS D (Delta) Airspace:

  • Has an Air Traffic Control Tower, and is controlled airspace.

  • Shown by a dashed blue circle. ​

  • Class D airspace is individually tailored and usually is incorporated with an instrument procedure. These are marked with an arrival extension attached to the dashed blue circle, shown by ether class D or Class E airspace.

Class D Dimensions

  • Airspace from the Surface (SFC) to 2,500 feet AGL.

Entry Requirements

  • 2 way radio communication with ATC

  • Most Class D airports are NOT open 24 hours.

    • When the ATC tower closes at night the airspace becomes Class E or G airspace.

  • Must here your tail number from ATC. If you do not here your tail number from ATC, you CAN NOT enter Class Delta airspace​.

    • If ATC responds back with "RHA123, Standby". You may enter Class Delta airspace, because 2-way communication has been established with ATC.

  • Mode C Transponder

Weather Minimums

  • 3 Statue Miles Visibility

  • 152 - 1,000ft above, 500ft below, 2,000ft horizontal.

CLASS E (Echo) Airspace:

  • Class E airspace is controlled airspace by ATC.

  • Within the dashed magenta area class E starts at the surface. 

  • Inside of the shaded magenta line

    • Airspace is from the 700 feet AGL to but not including 18,000 feet MSL, the lower limit of Class A airspace.

      • So it would be 700 feet AGL to 17,999 feet MSL ​

  • Outside of the shaded magenta line

    • Airspace is from the 1,200 feet AGL to but not including 18,000 feet MSL, the lower limit of Class A airspace.

  • All other Class E airspace starts at 14,500 feet MSL 

  • Student pilots can fly in Class E

Entry Requirements

  • None required   

  • No 2 way communication with ATC is required.

  • Mode C Transponder

Weather Minimums

  • Below 10,000 feet

    • 3 Statute Miles visibility

    • 1,000 ft above​, 500 ft below, 2,000 ft horizontally 

  • Above 10,000 feet

    • 5 Statute Miles visibility

    • 1,000 ft above​, 1000 ft below, 1 Statute Mile horizontally

CLASS G (Gulf) Airspace:

  • Class G airspace is uncontrolled airspace.

    • It is the airspace closest to the ground​. Think of Class 'G' - G for ground.

  • Is from the surface to the over lying Class E airspace.​

    • Inside the magenta area G airspace is from the surface up to 699ft AGL.

    • Outside the magenta area G airspace is from the surface up to 1,199ft AGL.

  • Student pilots can fly in Class E

Entry Requirements

  • None required 

Weather Minimums

  • Day VFR Below 1,200 feet

    • 1 Statute Mile visibility

    • Clear of Clouds

  • Night VFR Below 1,200 feet

    • 3 Statute Miles visibility

    • 1,000 ft above​, 500 ft below, 2,000 ft horizontally

  • Day VFR Above 1,200 feet​

    • 1 Statute Mile visibility

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

  • Night VFR Below 1,200 feet

    • 3-152 

Special Use Airspace

  • Military Operating Area 

  • Prohibited Area

  • Restricted Area

  • Warning Area

  • National Security TFR

Military Operating Area (MOA):

Shown by a magenta hash line on VFR sectional charts. They shown with the area name and ending with “MOA”, for an example “SUNDANCE MOA”.

General aviation (GA) aircraft are allowed to fly in a MOA without a clearance from ATC. It is wise to monitor the MOA frequency.

Prohibited Area:

These are shown on charts by a blue hash line.

The area is represented with 'P' and ending with a number “P-51”.

GA aircraft are not allowed to fly in a Prohibited Area, must fly around these areas.

Restricted Area:

Restricted areas are shown by a blue hash lines. These are depicted on the sectional with an 'R' and ending with a number “R-2916”.

GA aircraft are allowed to fly in a Restricted Area, only If the area is dead (not active). ​

If the area is active, then GA aircraft must fly around a Restricted Area.

Contact ATC or contact the ATC Agency via the frequency on your sectional chart to see if the restricted area is active or not.

Warning Area:

Warning areas are shown by a blue hash line with 'W' and ending with a number “W-292W”, these are located off the coast in low control area or low radar coverage areas.

Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR):

TFRs can show up at any given time, these are for national security areas, sporting events, VIP movement (i.e. President, Vice President, Heads of state, etc.), firefighting, etc.  They are shown only on digital maps by a red line​.

ALWAYS Check NOTAMs or Call FSS, and make sure your digital maps are update and most current.​

​Aircraft that are not a part of the TFR, are not allowed to fly into them. If you do fly into one, you will lose your Pilot Certificate. 

 

Aircraft Airspeeds

Below 10,000 feet measured sea level (MSL):  

Within certain airspace's, VFR corridors and or underneath certain airspace.  Aircraft are restricted to curtain airspeed's, unless authorized by Air Traffic Control (ATC).

Aircraft are not authorized to fly at 250 knots (kts) Indicated Airspeed (IAS) below 10,000 feet MSL.​

Class B airspace:

Underlying Class B airspace or within a VFR corridor, the speed is no more than 200kts IAS.

Class C and D airspace:

At or below 2,500 feet above the surface and within 4 NM of a Class C and D airports, the speed is no more than 200kts IAS.​

References:

 

Private Pilot ACS PA.I.E.K1 - PA.I.E.K3 

AIM Sec. 3-2-2, 3-2-3, 3-2-4, 3-2-5, 3-2-6, 3-3-1

FAR Part 91.225

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LAX Class Bravo airspace.png
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Class E.png

Inside the magenta area G airspace is from the surface up to 699ft AGL.

Outside the magenta area G airspace is from the surface up to 1,199ft AGL.

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Inside the magenta area E airspace is from the surface up to 700ft AGL.

Outside the magenta area E airspace is from the surface up to 1,200ft AGL.

Inside the circle, E airspace begins at the surface 

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