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Criteria for airports with Class E extending to surface vs Class E at 700′

Asked by: 3856 views Airspace

I assume both have instrument approaches

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1 Answers

  1. Best Answer


    John D Collins on Mar 17, 2015

    You can find information on the criteria in FAA Order JO 7200.2K Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters. Section 18 deals with E airspace and contains the following:

    18−1−2. CLASS E SURFACE AREAS
    a. A Class E surface area is designated to provide controlled airspace for terminal operations where a control tower is not in operation. Class E surface areas extend upward from the surface to a designated altitude; or to the adjacent or overlaying controlled airspace. Class E airspace surface areas must meet the criteria in paragraph 17−1−3 of this order.
    b. When a surface area is established to accommodate part time operations at a Class C
    or D airspace location, the surface area will normally be coincident with that airspace. If the airspace is not coincident, it should be explained in the rule.
    18−1−3. DESIGNATION
    If the communication and weather requirements described in paragraphs 17−2−9 and 17−2−10 are met, Class E surface airspace may be designated to accommodate:
    a. IFR arrival, departure, holding, and en route operations not protected by other controlled airspace.
    b. Instrument approach procedures. Surface airspace may be designated to accommodate special instrument procedures if such action is justified and/or in the public interest. The following factors are among those that should be considered:
    1. Type of procedure including decision height or minimum descent altitude.
    2. The actual use to be made of the procedure, including whether it is used by a certificated air carrier or an air taxi/commuter operator providing service to the general public.
    NOTE− For special instrument procedures, consideration should be given to availability to other users.
    3. The operational and economic advantage offered by the procedure, including the importance and interest to the commerce and welfare of the community derived by the procedure.
    4. Any other factors considered appropriate.

    A surface E airspace area increases the VFR minimums from 1 mile and clear of clouds to the standard 3 miles, 500 below, 1000 feet above, and 2000 feet lateral cloud separation. IMHO, it is justified when there are a lot of instrument operations or when a certified air carrier flies on a regular basis into the airport. Any airspace designation requires rule making to take place. If I were king of the FAA, I would make all airports that have an instrument approach be defined as surface E airspace, but that is just me.

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