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 

References:

ACS PA.I.E.K1, 

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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Santa Barbara Class Charlie airspace.png
Class Delta airspace.png
D.png
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.

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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