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Controlled Airspace In The United States

The value of controlled airspace in the United States is for the safety of all commercial and general aviation flights. Utter chaos reigns in skies without controlled airspace. With thousands of airplanes in the skies every day carrying hundred of thousand of people the necessity of a means of controlling them becomes relevant.

The (FAA) Federal Aviation Administration is the regulative department of the United States Government that controls the skies in the U.S. The FAA divided the airspace into different categories, all of which have different regulations and limits on both horizontal and vertical airspace restrictions. They are broken down into basically three distinct airspaces: Class B, Class C, and Class D. Class B airspace is controlled airspace that extends upward from the ground surface to a specified altitude of 10,000 msl (mean sea level).

All aircraft that operate in this airspace are subject to regulations set forth by the FAA. Some of the requirements for the pilot to operate in Class B airspace are: the pilot must at the minimum hold a private pilot certificate, and a current medical certificate. The aircrafts operating in Class B airspace must have at least three pieces of equipment; the first is a two-way radio for communication. The second piece of equipment, a transponder, tracks the aircraft’s position.

The third piece of equipment is a VOR (vertical omni range), which directs the pilot’s position. Also, in order to operate in Class B airspace a person must obtain a clearance for ATC (Air Traffic Control). The speed limit in Class B airspace is restricted to 200 knots. Throughout the country, metropolitan airports designate Class C airspace with a set of rings, extending from the surface of the earth to an altitude of 4,000 feet above the airport elevation and a radius of 5nm (nautical miles) from the center of the airport. This area is known as a primary Class C airport.

There is an outer ring that extends out 10 nm from the airport and above the surface from 1,200 feet to 4,000 feet. This area is used for transitioning to and from the airport. The operating rules in the Class C are similar to that of the Class B. The pilot is required to hold at least a private pilot license and a valid medical certificate and to be classified as “current.” Current requirement entails having completed at least three takeoffs and landings in the same type of aircraft.

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