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5 Answers


Asked by: 1487 views General Aviation, Student Pilot

hello sirs/maams. i am new to the aviation world. what i want to know is, what are the considerations for a pilot to leave the published MSA. thank you

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5 Answers

  1. Dauntless Aviation www.dauntless-soft.com on Feb 01, 2016

    Sorry, it is not clear to us what you mean by “MSA” in this context.

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  2. salem91 on Feb 01, 2016

    What i meant is, say you are requested to climb/descend to minimum safety altitude, are there any considerations or factors that can affect the instruction given?

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  3. Mark Kolber on Feb 02, 2016

    I don’t see a situation in which you would be =requested or instructed= to climb or descend to an MSA.

    Perhaps you are thinking of a country other than the US? In the US, the MSA is purely an emergency altitude – a reference for a pilot with a problem to know what altitude within a certain distance will allow the pilot to maneuver without hitting something.

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  4. Skyfox on Feb 02, 2016

    91.119, “Minimum Save Altitudes: General” begins with the statement,
    “Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:”

    That’s just in general. If for example you’re under ATC direction at an assigned altitude, or flying IFR at a minimum altitude, changes in altitude have to be by the approval of ATC and/or when you can continue VFR (went wanting to go below an IFR minimum altitude).

    Emergencies take precedence over all other regulations, which you can break at pilot’s discretion to the extent necessary for the emergency.

    In response to your follow-up question, in terms of climbing to a MSA, the only real factor limiting that would be if you’d be climbing into a low overcast, in which case you’d have to be IFR rated with an IFR-equipped airplane and get an IFR clearance and flight plan before entering the clouds. When requesting to ATC that you want to descend to the MSA, terrain, obstructions, clouds below you, and air traffic all play factors in that process. If you’re over an other-than-congested area and want to go down to the 500 AGL MSA and your flight path is headed for a congested area, you have to climb to the congested area MSA (1000 feet above the highest obstruction within 2000 feet horizontally) before you get there. Also, if you’re not in congested areas, the MSA will be in class G airspace unless you happen to be within surface-based controlled airspace, so really you wouldn’t have to ask anyone’s permission.

    Your decision to go to an MSA, and the limitations keeping you from getting there, all depend on a lot of factors that can change from one time to the next. And you must always remember your 91.119 (a) for anywhere:
    “An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.”

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  5. Skyfox on Feb 02, 2016

    I forgot to mention, my answer assumes an airplane is being used. For helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift control aircraft, 91.119 (d) pretty much exempts those types of aircraft from MSAs provided the operation doesn’t cause any hazards to people and property on the ground.

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