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National Airspace System

The student should have an understanding of the national airspace system, and be able to apply it to a cross-country flight or sectional chart.

Elements

  • airspace classes
  • special-use airspace
  • chart appearance

Resources

Instructor actions

Using lecture and guided discussion techniques, introduce the student to the national airspace system and establish an understanding of the different types and restrictions. With a chart or FliteStar planning software, introduce unfamiliar areas and use the airspace to create scenarios.

Student actions

Read and complete the assigned homework; actively listen to the lecture and guided discussion, and participate in the scenario-based activity.

Completion Standards

The student should be able to identify various airspace, features, and the associated limitations with limited instructor guidance.

Teaching outline

  • controlled vs uncontrolled
    • atc service provided in controlled only
  • with overlapping airspace, the more restrictive airspace applies
  • VFR cruising altitudes

Controlled airspace

airspace (sectional)

  • Class A
    • 18,000 – 60,000 ft msl
    • contains all jetways
    • IFR flights only
    • must be cleared to enter
    • mode c required
  • Class B
    • busiest airports, custom inverted wedding cake layout
    • sfc – 10,000 ft msl, 20 nm radius in most cases
    • must be cleared to enter
    • VFR: 3 sm, clear of clouds
    • mode c required (30 nm veil)
    • pilot certificate or appropriate endorsements
  • Class C
    • congested airports, one-step inverted wedding cake
    • sfc – 4,000 ft agl, 5 nm radius
    • 1,200 – 4,000 ft agl, 10 nm radius
    • two-way radio communication required to enter
    • mode c required (30 nm veil)
    • VFR: 3 sm, 500 ft below, 1,000 ft above, 2,000 ft horizontal
  • Class D
    • general airports
    • sfc – 2,500 ft agl, 4 nm radius
    • two-way radio communication required to enter
    • VFR: 3 sm, 500 ft below, 1,000 ft above, 2,000 ft horizontal
  • Class E
    • all other controlled airspace
    • starts at a variety of altitudes including the surface, with a limit of 18,000 ft msl
    • surrounds airports with IFR operations but no tower
    • VFR below 10,000 ft msl: 3 sm, 500 ft below, 1,000 ft above, 2,000 ft horizontal
    • VFR above 10,000 ft msl: 5 sm, 1,000 ft below, 1,000 ft above, 1 sm horizontal

Class G (uncontrolled) airspace

  • 1,200 ft agl and below
  • can extend up to 14,500 ft msl
  • typically reaches 10,000 ft msl
  • VFR weather minimums:
    • 1,200 ft agl or less: 1 sm, clear of clouds (day) or 3+5/½ (night)
    • 1,200 ft agl – 10,000 ft msl: 1+5/½ (day) or 3+5/½ (night)
    • 1,200+ ft agl + 10,000+ ft msl: 5+1/1/1 (day and night)
  • no flight plan required for IFR flights that remain wholly within Class G

Special-use airspace

  • prohibited
  • warning – coastal, 3 nm
  • restricted areas – permission required
  • military operations areas (MOAs)
  • alert areas – high volume training
  • controlled firing areas – not depicted, but activity ceases if aircraft overfly

Other airspace

  • temporary flight restrictions (TFRs)
  • military training routes (MTRs)