To: (Separate email addresses with commas)
From: (Your email address)
Message: (Optional)



The 6 ABCs Of United States Airspace

Having trouble with the basic principles of airspace? We can help!

A: Class "Alpha"

As a VFR (visual flight rules) pilot, you'll probably never fly in Class A airspace. Class A extends from 18,000' MSL to FL600. While exceptions do exist, you normally need to fly under IFR (instrument flight rules) inside Class A airspace, which is why you'll commonly find airliners and business jets there.


B: Class "Bravo"

Class B airspace protects some of the busiest commercial airports in the world. You'll find a constant flow of airliners and regional jets arriving and departing. No matter what the weather, Class B airspace is always busy. Add to the mix corporate jets, cargo operations, and personal aircraft on both VFR and IFR flight plans, and you've got busy airspace. To accommodate all of these flights, Class B airspace has some of the most strict equipment and communication requirements of any airspace.


C: Class "Charlie"

Class C airspace covers busy airports, which usually have a mix of airline and general aviation traffic (Daytona Beach KDAB, for instance). Class C airspace is considerably smaller than Class B airspace, and Air Traffic Control does not provide the same level of separation service as you would find in Class B airspace. However, you still talk to ATC while inside Class C airspace, and your Mode-C transponder provides them your position and altitude.


D: Class "Delta"

Like Class B and C, Class D airports have Air Traffic Control Towers to coordinate airport operations (Sioux Falls KFSD, for instance). However, unlike Class B and C airports, they're not busy enough to require a mandatory approach and departure control. While Class D airport control towers often have a radar scope in the cab, they primarily manage traffic visually.


E: Class "Echo"

Class E is nearly everywhere - and it starts at different altitudes all over the map. That fact alone makes it confusing to understand. Class E airspace separates VFR and IFR traffic. In fact, it's really designed to protect IFR flights.


G: Class "Golf"

Like Class E airspace, you'll fly through Class G airspace at airports (the "terminal environment") and while en-route. However, Class G airspace isn't controlled. Neither VFR nor IFR aircraft needs an ATC clearance to operate in Class G airspace.


Why No F: Class "Foxtrot" Airspace?

Class F airspace is technically designated as "uncontrolled", but you can sometimes get ATC clearances as found in "controlled" airspace. ATC clearances in Class F are "advisory only," meaning that you don't legally have to follow ATC directives, and the final responsibility rests with the pilot in command. Where available, ATC may give separation guidance to IFR aircraft. In short, the real purpose of Class F is to allow flights to remain IFR in uncontrolled environments. Since this is a sort of mix between Class E and Class G airspace, there is no Class F inside the United States.

Whether you're preparing for a checkride, or trying to knock the rust off before you fly to new airports, airspace is one the most challenging parts of flying. Sign up for our National Airspace System online course, and become an airspace pro today.

Images Courtesy:

Recommended Stories

Latest Stories

    Load More
    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email