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2 Answers

Overlying airspace

Asked by: 1820 views , , ,
Airspace, FAA Regulations

In Milwaukee the class C airspace of MKE partially overlies the class D airspace of MWC located to the northwest outer ring of MKE. The D airspace shows a ceiling of 3200' while the C airspace of that ring shows a floor of 2200' and a ceiling of 4700'.

If you were flying within the D airspace that also coincides with the C airspace at 2500' who does that airspace "belong" to?

Now when this same situation happens with class B airspace overlying class C airspace I've seen the most common situation is that the C airspace is labeled as "T/19" (or whatever the altitude may be) to indicate that the C airspace stops at the floor of the overlying B airspace. But when you have the D airspace saying 3200' with the segmented circle drawn into the C airspace and floor of that said airspace being lower - again... who does it belong to?

The only two AIM references I can find are contradictory -

AIM 3-2-4 Secondary Airports -

In some locations Class C airspace may overlie the Class D surface area of a secondary airport. In order to allow that control tower to provide service to aircraft, portions of the overlapping Class C airspace may be procedurally excluded when the secondary airport tower is in operation. Aircraft operating in these procedurally excluded areas will only be provided airport traffic control services when in communication with the secondary airport tower.

AIM 3-1-3. Hierarchy of Overlapping Airspace Designations -

When overlapping airspace designations apply to the same airspace, the operating rules associated with the more restrictive airspace designation apply.

So what say you? I am under the impression that while the class D airport tower is open and in operation then that airspace that is overlapped at the same altitudes belongs to the class D airport and when it is closed and it reverts back to a class E airspace the class C airspace takes over...


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2 Answers

  1. John D Collins on Sep 26, 2015

    In both the C or D airspace, one must establish radio contact with the controlling authority prior to entering the airspace. If you are already in the D and flying into the C, the tower will coordinate with the C TRACON or visa versa. The C also requires that you have an operating transponder with mode C. If the D is not operational, you only need to contact the TRACON prior to entering the C.

    Establish contact with the TRACON prior to entering the C or with the tower prior to entering the D. ATC will make this a non issue.

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  2. Mark Kolber on Sep 26, 2015

    The two AIM references aren’t really contradictory. 3-1-3 states the general rule that the rules of the more restrictive airspace apply. All 3-2-4 tells us is that where Class C overlaps a secondary Class D surface area, “portions of the overlapping Class C airspace may be procedurally excluded when the secondary airport tower is in operation.”

    What that “may” tells me is that in the KMWE/KMWC situation, I can anticipate some sort of coordination between Tower and TRACON. Departing from KMWC, I would expect to hear instructions on the subject from either ATIS or the Tower and ask if I were unsure.

    The question about who “owns” the airspace is often even more complicated than the chart indicates. There tend to be formal Letters of Agreement between facilities or some other method for coordinating the use of the airspace. That takes place even without direct overlap.

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