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4 Answers

Glass G Airspace off the Airport

Asked by: 1825 views Airspace, Instrument Rating

I was given an IFR clearance by ATC to enter controlled airspace heading 360 off an airport where Class G is from the ground to 700AGL.  How far south of the airport can I fly  considering I stay at 500AGL before making my turn north? For instance, can I fly 5 miles south at 500AGL and then make a turn to 360 and enter controlled airspace 5 miles south of the airport on a 360 heading?  Is there a rule or expectation that I cannot do this?

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4 Answers



  1. John D Collins on Nov 27, 2013

    The expectation is that you are going to climb at a rate of 200 feet/NM or greater. Also you are not expected to make any turns below 400 AGL. You are responsible for terrain and obstruction avoidance unless you are: first, In radar contact and second on a vector or third on a published route at the MEA/MOCA or at the MIA. A turn to 360 on entering controlled airspace is not a vector. If you aren’t positive that a turn to 360 on entering controlled airspace will permit you to avoid terrain or obstacles, don’t accept the clearance. If a DP or ODP doesn’t exist for the runway at the airport and it has a published instrument approach, then the airport has been found to comply with a diverse departure that meets the standard 40 to 1 climb gradient in all directions. The 40 to 1 obstacle evaluation with no obstacle or terrain penetrations is required to support the expected 200 ft/NM climb gradient.

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  2. Mark Kolber on Nov 27, 2013

    John gave the answer, but I have a question:

    I’m trying to figure out why one would choose to stay at 500 AGL, close to the ground and terrain and structures and people, when operating under IFR?

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  3. JessieB on Nov 29, 2013

    Thanks for your response John.

    Mark, it is merely a hypothetical….say I wanted to look at a house, or lake, or something in the vacinity at an airport that is closer to a farm field than the town. I was just wondering since ATC may be basing separation off of a heading that they think is north of the airport when in fact I could be south…..and if I was south, would that be a deviation.

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  4. Mark Kolber on Nov 30, 2013

    The reasonable expectation of ATC is that you are going to takeoff, climb to 400′, perform an ODP if it’s there (although if it’s not assigned, ATC should be informed that you are going to do it), turn on course, climb to your en route altitude and get on your way. They are definitely not expecting you to do some sightseeing along the way. IFR is not just another way to play in the air; it’s a procedure-based system for getting from here to there. That doesn’t mean you can’t do something else (block altitude clearances are not uncommon for training in IMC) but it does require extra steps on the pilot’s part.

    If you want to do something else, let ATC know. Your hypothetical contemplates VFR conditions, in which case, why not wait and get your clearance in the air when you are done? And if for some reason, you really want to see that lake or buzz that house in IMC, let ATC know what you are going to do and include it in your flight plan. It might make for an interesting discussion if you are getting a relayed clearance from FSS for a nontowered field (especially the part about not wanting to maintain a minimum IFR altitude for an extended period of time).

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