Special Use Airspace

There are six types of SUA. These types include: 

Prohibited Areas (FAR 91.133)

  • Airspace within which flight is prohibited.

  • Used for areas of security or other reasons of national welfare.

  • TFRs are often used around prohibited areas which the President may visit for national security.

  • Prohibited areas have varied ceilings but all begin at the surface.

  • Notices of prohibited areas are distributed via the NOTAM(Notices to Airmen) system.

Restricted Areas (FAR 91.133)

  • Airspace where flight is not wholly prohibited, but is subject to restrictions 

  • Restricted areas denote the existence of invisible hazards to aircraft, such as artillery firing, aerial gunnery, or guided missiles 

  • The altitudes of restricted areas vary based on the operations conducted in them 

  • If a restricted area is active, a pilot must receive prior permission of the controlling agency before flying through it 

  • Times and altitudes of the restricted area’s operation can be found on the sectional chart 

Warning Areas 

  • Airspace of defined dimensions, extending from 3 NM outward from the coast of the U.S.

  • Contains activity which may be hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft 

  • Warning areas warn nonparticipating aircraft about the hazardous conditions in that area 

  • Warning areas should be thought of as the same as restricted areas, they just can’t be regulated like restricted areas because they are outside the 3 NM airspace boundary of U.S. airspace, therefore they can be flown through  

  • Warning areas are located over domestic or international waters 

  • Times and altitudes of operation can be found in the sectional chart 

Military Operations Area (MOA)

  • MOA’s is airspace established to separate certain military training activities from IFR traffic 

  • VFR pilots should exercise extreme caution when flying through an MOA

  • The altitudes of MOAs vary based on the operations conducted within them 

  • Times and altitudes of operation as well as the name of the controlling agency can be found on the sectional chart 

Alert Areas

  • Alert areas are used to inform nonparticipating pilots of areas that may contain a high volume of pilot training or an unusual type of aerial activity 

  • There is no controlling agency in alert areas, therefore all aircraft in the area are responsible for collision avoidance 

Controlled Firing Areas

  • Areas containing activities that if not conducted in a controlled environment could be hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft 

  • These areas are not depicted on sectional or TAC charts because the pilot does not have to action 

  • If an aircraft is spotted in a controlled firing area all activities are suspended immediately 

Special Flight Rules Areas(SFRAs)

  • When necessary for safety, the FAA will issue SFRAs to modify the rules within an operating area 

  • SFRAs are just modifications to current airspaces 

  • SFRAs are shown on sectional charts and TAC charts using a blue line with blue shaded boxes on the inside 

  • Transponder usage, routing, communication requirements, and speed limitations are possible modifications within an SFRA

  • Before operating within an SFRA, you should become familiar with its regulations 

  • A regulatory reference will be provided to allow pilots to learn about the rules in effect

TFRs(Temporary Flight Restrictions)

  • TFRs are airspace where the flight of aircraft is prohibited without prior permission or an FAA waiver 

  • TFRs are implemented because the area they cover can be important to national security or national welfare 

  • TFRs are often moved or changed frequently 

  • Information on TFRs can be found in the NOTAMs

  • TFRs always have defined vertical and lateral boundaries indicated in the NOTAMs 

Military Training Routes(MTRs)

  • Used by the military for conducting low-altitude(below 10,000 ft. MSL) high speed training(more than 250 kts)

National Security Areas(NSAs)

  • Airspace with vertical and lateral dimensions where there is a requirement for increased security and safety of ground facilities 

  • Pilots are requested to voluntarily avoid flying through NSAs

  • NOTAMs are issued to prohibit flight in NSAs when it is necessary to provide greater security

Terminal Radar Service Areas(TSRAs)

  • TSRAs are not controlled airspace 

  • Pilots can receive additional radar services, called TSRA Service 

  • Typically in Class D airspace, and overlying Class E airspace 

  • Depicted with a solid black line and with altitudes for each segment expressed in hundreds of feet MSL

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