This class was a biggie. It was also a bit continuation of the previous class. We covered a fairly large amount of material ranging from airspaces to TFRs to an intro into markings on charts.

First up lets look at some markings on charts. There is an unholy amount of detail to the maps and it seems like it will take a life time to learn but lucky for people like me there are legends which should help.

We started out with Special Use Airspaces of which there are 5:

Prohibited – These are always off limits, generally they are covering things like the white house. You’ll notice a “P” on the chart.

Restricted –  Restricted airspace tends to mean the military is doing something you don’t want to be involved in. Straight from the FAA: Restricted areas denote the existence of unusual, often invisible, hazards to aircraft such as artillery firing, aerial gunnery, or guided missiles. Penetration of restricted areas without authorization from the using or controlling agency may be extremely hazardous to the aircraft and its occupants.”

MOA (Military Operations Areas) – A military operations area (MOA) is “airspace established outside Class A airspace to separate or segregate certain nonhazardous military activities from IFR Traffic and to identify for VFR traffic where these activities are conducted.” (14 CFR §1.1, U.S.A.) Similar structures exist under international flight standards. These are designed for routine training or testing maneuvers. Areas near actual combat or other military emergencies are generally designated as restricted airspace.

Warning Areas – Warning areas are similar in nature to restricted areas; however, the United States government does not have sole  jurisdiction over the airspace. A warning area is airspace of defined dimensions, extending from 12 NM outward from the coast of the United States, containing activity that may be hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft. The purpose of such areas is to warn nonparticipating pilots of the potential danger.

Alert Area – Alert areas are depicted on aeronautical charts with an “A” followed by a number (e.g., A-211) to inform nonparticipating pilots of areas that may contain a high volume of pilot training or an unusual type of aerial activity.

Finally to make it slightly more confusing there are things known as “other airspace areas”.  Generally it’s a term referring to the majority of the remaining airspace. It includes:
* Local airport advisory
* Military training route (MTR)
* Temporary flight restriction (TFR)
* Parachute jump aircraft operations
* Published VFR routes
* Terminal radar service area (TRSA)
* National security area (NSA)

We care about all of those but we really care about TFRs, which are defined as: A flight data center (FDC) Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) is issued to designate a TFR. The NOTAM begins with the phrase “FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS” followed by the location of the temporary restriction, effective time period, area defined in statute miles, and altitudes affected. The NOTAM also contains the FAA coordination facility and telephone number, the reason for the restriction, and any other information deemed appropriate. The pilot should check the NOTAMs as part of flight planning.
Some of the purposes for establishing a TFR are:
* Protect persons and property in the air or on the surface from an existing or imminent hazard.
* Provide a safe environment for the operation of disaster relief aircraft.
* Prevent an unsafe congestion of sightseeing aircraft above an incident or event, which may generate a high degree of public interest.

Make sense?  Yep.  Me too.

Below is a sectional for Washington DC.  Again, there is an unholy amount of restricted and prohibited airspace on that chart.  I can’t imagine planning a flight around that area but know it’s possible because I have flown in to DCA in a KingAir.  The pilot was seasoned but man… what a pain.

Midwest helictoper washington-dc-sectional-chart