Other airspace areas is a general term referring to the majority of the remaining airspace. It includes:
- Airport advisory areas
- Military training routes (MTRs)
- Temporary flight restrictions (TFRs)
- Terminal Radar Service Areas
- National security areas
Local Airport Advisory
A local airport advisory is an area within 10 statute miles (SM) of an airport where a control tower is not operating, but where a flight service station (FSS) is located. At these locations, the FSS provides advisory service to arriving and departing aircraft. See AIM section 3-5-1 for more information on using the local airport flight station services.
Military Training Routes (MTRs)
National security depends largely on the deterrent effect of our airborne military forces. To be proficient, the military services must train in a wide range of airborne tactics. One phase of this training involves “low level” combat tactics. The required maneuvers and high speeds are such that they may occasionally make the see-and-avoid aspect of VFR flight more difficult without increased vigilance in areas containing such operations. In an effort to ensure the greatest practical level of safety for all flight operations, the Military Training Route (MTR) program was conceived.
These routes are usually established below 10,000 feet MSL for operations at speeds in excess of 250 knots. Some route segments may be defined at higher altitudes for purposes of route continuity. Routes are identified as IFR (IR), and VFR (VR), followed by a number. MTRs with no segment above 1,500 feet AGL are identified by four numeric characters (e.g., IR1206, VR1207). MTRs that include one or more segments above 1,500 feet AGL are identified by three numeric characters (e.g., IR206, VR207). IFR Low Altitude En Route Charts depict all IR routes and all VR routes that accommodate operations above 1,500 feet AGL. IR routes are conducted in accordance with IFR regardless of weather conditions.
MTRs are usually indicated with a gray line on the sectional chart. A WSC aircraft pilot flying in the area of VRs or IRs should question the briefer during the weather brief to find out if any of the routes are in use, and a possible time frame for opening and closing. While it is true that the WSC aircraft pilot has the right of way, the WSC aircraft will generally come out worse in a midair conflict with a fast-moving military aircraft. MTRs, such as the example depicted in Figure 8-17, are also further defined on sectional charts.
Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs)
TFRs are put into effect when traffic in the airspace would endanger or hamper air or ground activities in the designated area. For example, a forest fire, chemical accident, flood, or disaster-relief effort could warrant a TFR, which would be issued as a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM). The NOTAM begins with the phrase “FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS” followed by the location, effective time period, area defined in statute miles, and altitudes affected, which aircraft flying in the area must avoid. 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 NOTAMs as part of flight planning.
The reasons for establishing a temporary restriction are to:
- 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 unsafe congestion of sightseeing aircraft above an incident or event, which may generate a high degree of public interest;
- Protect declared national disasters for humanitarian reasons;
- Protect the President, Vice President, or other public figures; and
- Provide a safe environment for space agency operations.
It is a pilot’s responsibility to be aware of TFRs in his or her proposed area of flight. One way to check is to visit the FAA website, www.tfr.faa.gov, and verify that there is not a TFR in the area. Another resource is to ask the flight briefer at 800-WX-BRIEF during the preflight briefing.
Terminal Radar Service Areas (TRSA)
Terminal Radar Service Areas (TRSA) are areas where participating pilots can receive additional radar services. The purpose of the service is to provide separation between all IFR operations and participating VFR aircraft.
The primary airport(s) within the TRSA become(s) Class D airspace. The remaining portion of the TRSA overlies other controlled airspace, which is normally Class E airspace beginning at 700 or 1,200 feet and established to transition to/ from the en-route terminal environment. TRSAs are depicted on VFR sectional charts and terminal area charts with a solid black line and altitudes for each segment. The Class D portion is charted with a blue segmented line. Participation in TRSA services is voluntary; however, pilots operating under VFR are encouraged to contact the radar approach control and take advantage of TRSA service. Operations inside the TFR area must be conducted under the provisions of a waiver. Should such an operation be contemplated, the WSC aircraft pilot should consult with the local Flight Service District Office (FSDO) well in advance of the event.
National Security Areas (NSAs)
NSAs consist of airspace with defined vertical and lateral dimensions established at locations where there is a requirement for increased security and safety of ground facilities. Flight in NSAs may be temporarily prohibited by regulation under the provisions of 14 CFR part 99, and prohibitions are disseminated via NOTAM.
Published VFR Routes
Published VFR routes are for transitioning around, under, or through some complex airspace. Terms such as VFR flyway, VFR corridor, Class B airspace, VFR transition route, and terminal area VFR route have been applied to such routes. These routes are generally found on VFR terminal area planning charts.
Flight Over Charted U.S. Wildlife Refuges, Parks, and Forest Service Areas
The landing of aircraft is prohibited on lands or waters administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or U.S. Forest Service without authorization from the respective agency. Exceptions include:
- When forced to land due to an emergency beyond the control of the operator;
- At officially designated landing sites; or
- An approved official business of the Federal Government.
Pilots are requested to maintain a minimum altitude of 2,000 feet above the surface of the following: national parks, monuments, seashores, lakeshores, recreation areas, and scenic riverways administered by the National Park Service, National Wildlife Refuges, Big Game Refuges, Game Ranges, and Wildlife Ranges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and wilderness and primitive areas administered by the U.S. Forest Service.
WSC preflight planning should include a review of the airspace that is flown. A local flight may be close to the field and include only Class G and Class E airspace. Minimum visibility and cloud clearance may be the only requirements to be met. However, a radio to communicate to the airport traffic and an altimeter to fly at the proper airport pattern altitude is recommended.
If flying to control tower airports or through Class B, C, or D airspace, determine if the WSC meets all of the equipment requirements of that airspace. [Figure 8-5] Also review qualifications to determine if the minimum pilot requirements of the airspace are met. If the minimum aircraft and/or pilot requirements of the airspace are not met, then the preflight planning should include a course around the airspace. Extra time and fuel is required for the circumnavigation and should be taken into consideration prior to departure.
WSC and Air Traffic Control
In nontowered airspace, airspace separation from other aircraft is the responsibility of the pilot. Separation from higher speed traffic may require flightpaths different than faster traffic. For flight and communicating with a control tower, the WSC pilot may be asked to expedite or deviate from a traditional course. The WSC pilot must work with ATC in advising of the airspeed and surface wind limitations. Safe operation in controlled airspace requires that the controller understand the performance and limits of the WSC aircraft.
Navigating the Airspace
Knowledge of airspace dimensions, requirements to enter the airspace, and geographical location of the airspace is the responsibility of all pilots. The current sectional chart is the primary official tool to determine the airspace flying within or avoiding.
Pilotage is navigation by reference to landmarks to determine location and the location of airspace. Pilotage is the best form of navigation to ensure that you avoid airspace not authorized to enter. Locating your position on the sectional chart and locating/identifying the airspace you want to enter/avoid requires preflight planning on the ground and situational awareness in the air.
For all flights, pilots must be sure to have enough fuel to complete the flight. For longer cross-country flights, this requires the pilot to check winds aloft and calculate the groundspeed for the planned altitude and forecast wind. The resultant time to the destination and the fuel consumption determines the fuel required to make the flight. This preflight planning is especially important for slower WSC aircraft because increased headwind components provide significant time increases to get to fuel stops than faster aircraft. Although 14 CFR section 91.151 requires airplanes to have at least 30 minutes of reserve fuel for an intended fuel stop; this minimum is also recommended for WSC aircraft. The Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge chapter on navigation provides procedures in navigation, plotting a course, determining groundspeed for the predicted wind, headings and the required fuel for intended legs of the flight. For any cross-country flight, a flight log should be used and the planned groundspeed should be compared to the actual GPS groundspeed measured in flight. If the GPS groundspeed is lower than the planned groundspeed, the time en route and the fuel reserves must be evaluated to assure the WSC aircraft does not run out of fuel during the flight.
GPS is a very popular form of navigation used by WSC pilots. The GPS receiver is small, simple to use, and inexpensive compared to other forms of electronic (radio) navigation. Simple modes of operation provide actual groundspeed and time to a waypoint. More sophisticated GPSs have aviation databases and provide the pilot a considerable amount of information about airports and airspace. When using GPS to determine airspace or airport position, boundaries, and/ or information, the aviation database in the GPS may not exactly match the information as depicted on the sectional chart. If there is a difference between the sectional chart and GPS information, the sectional chart should be considered correct.
A WSC pilot using GPS should ensure that the batteries are fresh and the aviation database is current. Never rely on the GPS as a primary navigation system. Pilotage using the sectional chart is the primary navigation system when flying beyond visual range of a familiar airport. The GPS is used only as a backup aid for navigation. With proper preflight planning and constant evaluation of the planned verses actual flight performance, cross-country flight is practical in the NAS for WSC pilots.