What Is Special Use Airspace?

If you are interested in a career in aviation like a pilot or a flight dispatcher, you are going to need to know about airspace and the many different types. There is controlled and uncontrolled airspace as well as different classes within controlled airspace itself. But where does special use airspace fit in to this and what does this classification mean? These different categories can be confusing, but as an aeronautics school, we are here to clear it up and make it easier to understand.  

Cloudy Blue SkyThese airspaces are areas with strict limitations on aircraft operations for various reasons. They can also be known as a special area of operation (SAO). These designated areas can be found by looking for specific marking with the National Aeronautical Charting Group (NACG).

Types of Special Use Airspace

Special use airspace also consists of different classifications that meet certain criteria.

Prohibited Areas

Prohibited areas are specific zones where aircraft flight is not permitted. These areas are usually created for national safety reasons. Camp David and the White House are examples of prohibited airspace. These spaces are denoted with a P followed by a number.

Restricted Areas

Restricted areas allow aircraft flight but there are various limitations. These areas are usually confined for safety reasons and are often associated with unusual activity. Some examples of restricted airspace include the presence of missiles or artillery fire. You will find these areas marked by an R followed by a number. 

Warning Areas

This airspace also typically involves hazardous conditions like restricted areas, but the difference is the airspace doesn’t solely belong to the United States.  Warning areas may be located over international waters. A W followed by a number is used to denote this area on a chart.

Military Operations Areas (MOAs)

Military Operations Areas are used to outline areas of military training activities and can vary depending on what is going on and when. Air traffic control may choose to reroute or restrict aircrafts from this airspace.

Controlled Firing Areas

This airspace involves possible activities that could be hazardous to an aircraft. It is not marked on charts because the dangerous activities must cease when an aircraft is approaching this area. Aircrafts can still fly through this area.

Alert Areas

Alert areas are areas of caution. They are marked to denote places where there may be pilot training or other unusual aerial activity. It is the responsibility of the pilots to take precaution.

If you are intrigued by airspace and the aviation industry, you could turn this interest into a career. Our flight dispatcher training will give more in-depth information about FAA special use airspace and help you get your FAA aircraft dispatcher license. At Sheffield School of Aeronautics, we can help.




FAA – PHAK Chapter 15

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