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Bob Comperini - Airspace Classifications

Airspace Chart:

Sample of Airspace As Depicted On Sectional:

More Examples:

Quick Reference:

Airspace is classified as Class A, B, C, D, E or G. There is no Class F airspace in the USA. Class A is the "most restrictive", and Class G is the "least restrictive". Class A and Class G airspace is not depicted on sectional charts. All other classes are.

Class A: Not shown on charts. This airspace begins at 18,000 MSL. Pilots need prior permission to enter this airspace, and they must be flying IFR.

Class B: Found around major airports. Depicted on chart with narrow solid blue line. Floor and ceilings of the Class B is depicted on the chart in hundreds of feet MSL. Pilots must get permission to enter from the controlling agency.

Class C: Found around heavy traffic airports. Looks similar to Class B on charts, but lines are magenta, not blue. Pilots cannot enter this airspace until they have established two-way communication with the controlling agency. Note this is not the same as the "permission to enter" requirement of Class B airspace. Part 103 ultralights must obtain "permission to enter", which is slightly different from the Part 91 rule.

Class D: By definition, this airspace exists at any airport with an operating control tower. Typically, Class D extends 5 miles from the airport, and 2500 AGL above. The actual dimensions of the Class D will be shown on the chart. The ceiling of the Class D will be shown as a number representing hundreds of feet MSL. Towered airports are depicted on the section in blue. If the tower is not in operation, the Class D ceases to exist. Pilots must establish two-way contact to enter from the controlling agency (usually the control tower). Part 103 ultralights must obtain "permission to enter", which is slightly different from the Part 91 rule.

Class E: Known as "General Controlled Airspace". The border of Class E is depicted on charts as a wide blue or magenta line, with one "fuzzy" edge. Class E airspace also exists in the vicinity of the Federal Airways ("Victor" airways). Although not shown on charts, the Class E airspace surrounding airways extends upward from 1200 AGL, to 18,000 MSL (or to the next overlying airspace), and extends 4nm on either side of the airway. Another type of (surface) Class E airspace, is found around airports, and is depicted as a thin magenta line. Class E airspace has more strict visibility and cloud clearance requirements. No prior permission or contact is required to enter this airspace. Part 103 ultralights must obtain permission before entering the surface Class E airspace designated around an airport.

Class G: Known as "uncontrolled airspace". Not depicted on charts. It is basically "everything else not defined as some other class". Anyone can fly in this airspace. It differs from all other airspace because of its lower visibility and cloud clearance minimums.

Where is all this shown? Airspace is depicted on aviation Sectional charts, VFR Terminal area charts, and WAC charts.

What Airspace can Ultralight pilots fly in? This is covered in FAA Part 103.

Where can I learn more about airspace? For those interested in learning more, there are many good aviation books. One good source is the Airman's Information Manual (AIM).

Bob Comperini

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This page updated on: March 04, 2016
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