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3 Answers

Flight to avoid lateral boundaries of surface area class E

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FAA Regulations, General Aviation

FAR 103.17 prohibits me from flying my ultralight through Class D or within the lateral boundaries of surface area of class E airspace designated for an airport unless with authorization from ATC.

May I transit above the ceiling of class D as long as I avoid the class E extensions?

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3 Answers



  1. John Scarry on Oct 29, 2017

    Short answer: No.

    Class D airspace generally exists from the ground to 2,500 AGL. You can’t fly your sUAS higher than 400′ without a waiver. Even if you got a waiver, It would have to be a very large sUAS for you to keep it constantly in sight at 2,500+ feet AGL.

    §107.51 Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.
    (b) The altitude of the small unmanned aircraft cannot be higher than 400 feet above ground level, unless the small unmanned aircraft:

    §107.31 Visual line of sight aircraft operation.
    (a) With vision that is unaided by any device other than corrective lenses, the remote pilot in command, the visual observer (if one is used), and the person manipulating the flight control of the small unmanned aircraft system must be able to see the unmanned aircraft throughout the entire flight…

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  2. Best Answer


    scramjetter on Oct 29, 2017

    Yes, as long as you remain clear of Class A, B, C, D, or surface E, you will be alright. The only issue you may face is that the airport can not be located within an area considered to be in a so called congested area. The definition of congested area is somewhat vague but if you see a lot of yellow on your aeronautical chart, that’s a great indicator to avoid overflight.

    The answer regarding drone flight doesn’t apply to your question.

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  3. EAD on Oct 29, 2017

    John, you have completely misread the question. He is talking about an ultralight (manned aircraft), not a “drone”. Part 107 does not apply here.

    Jim, I think this would be a question best asked of your local FSDO.

    My gut tells me “no” since a lot of class D airports turn into class E surface areas when the tower closes. This would mean your flight above a class D would be within the “lateral limits” of the Class E surface area that is designated for the airport.

    Again, I would check with someone far more knowledgeable on this. I am not a lawyer.

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