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  Class D and E Airspace, Obstructions, MOAs, Airport Elevations

Class D and E Airspace, Obstructions, and Military Operation Areas (MOAs)

In this video, we go over how to interpret sectional charts for Class D and E airspace, as well as cover some examples of questions that the FAA might ask you regarding flying around obstructions (specifically, how to determine the height of the obstructions and how high you can fly above them).

If you'd like to follow along with your own file, you can download the FAA test materials below - we are using Figure 21 (the chart is also located just below the quiz questions). Remember, the sectional chart excerpts we use come straight from the FAA supplemental materials that you will be using on your exam, so you may recognize these charts on test day.

Airport Elevations

One test question that has been coming up on the test lately has to do with using the elevation of an airport to determine the floor of controlled airspace, in mean sea level (MSL), that surrounds that airport.

For instance, in area 1 of the chart below, we can see that the airspace that surrounds Sandpoint airport is Class E airspace from 700 feet above ground level (AGL) and upwards (as evidenced by the shaded magenta line). Well what if we were asked to give the floor of that controlled airspace in MSL instead of AGL? We would first have to determine the elevation of the airport, and then add that to the above ground level altitude of the floor of the airspace.

We can determine the MSL altitude of a given airport by looking at the portion of the sectional chart that provides data about the airport (highlighted by the blue box in the excerpt below). The number in the bottom left corner of the airport data section (circled in red) will tell you the elevation of that airport in mean sea level (MSL).

So in this example, we see that the elevation of Sandpoint airport is 2,131 feet MSL. We know that the controlled, Class E airspace that surrounds the airfield begins at 700 feet AGL. If "ground level" (aka 0 feet AGL) at this airport is 2,131 feet MSL, we would then add 700 feet to that number in order to determine what the floor of Class E airspace would be as measured in MSL. The answer? 2,831 feet MSL.

Make sure you know how to do this type of calculation for the exam!

FAA Test Materials

If you don't already have a copy of the supplemental test materials, click the file below to download a copy. Its important that you become familiar with the charts in this file, as they are the EXACT charts you will see on test day. I would mainly focus on all of the sectional charts and maps (there is a lot of extra material in there that is only relevant for manned aircraft license exams).

Quiz Instructions

For the practice quiz below, you are going to either need to download the file for Figure 21 (above), or view the chart below the quiz box.