Information for Controlled Airspace
"controlled airspace" - means an
airspace of fixed dimensions that is so specified in the
Designated Airspace Handbook and within which air traffic
control service is provided.
-- CARs 101.01
There are many different sorts of named airspace
601.01 if you want a list), but every portion belongs to
one of seven classes, A through G, each with
different rules. For a full explanation of the rules for
different classes of airspace, read CARs
601.02 through to 601.09. The list below may help you
remember some of the requirements, based on the letters of the
A t and Above 18,000' asl.
Airliners and other IFR traffic
12,500' and 18,000' asl.
C learance required
D ialogue required -- Don't enter without
talking to the controller first.
E asy for VFR
aircraft - you don't need to talk to anyone. Everyone
gone home from class D.
F ancy stuff - special use
G eneral uncontrolled airspace
A through E are controlled. Class F
can be controlled or uncontrolled. Class G is
Notice that the difference between
C and D is that you need a clearance to
enter class C airspace, but two-way communication
is all you need to enter class D.
Minima and Special VFR
To fly VFR in controlled airspace, you
must maintain 500' vertical separation from cloud and
one mile horizontal separation from cloud, and have 3
miles forward visibility.
If the weather is below those VFR minima, CARs
602.117 still permits you to fly in a control zone, by
requesting special VFR. To request special VFR, you
must have 1 mile in-flight visibility, and the tower must also
be reporting 1 mile ground visibility. All you have to
do to receive special VFR is ask for it.
you listen to Kelowna ATIS Charlie, and the visibility is 2
miles in mist.
You: Kelowna Tower, Foxtrot
Juliet Delta Sierra with Charlie
You: Tower, Cessna 172 FJDS ten
miles southwest, four thousand five hundred, request special
Tower: JDS, altimeter 29.94. Special
VFR is approved, runway 15, cleared right downwind, report the
If you didn't say you had the ATIS or include
the words "request special" or "request
special vfr" in your transmission,the conversation
would go like this:
Pilot: Kelowna Tower,
Foxtrot Juliet Delta Sierra
has omitted the ATIS identifier.
FJDS, Kelowna Tower, Kelowna weather is below VFR minima, only
IFR or Special VFR traffic is permitted.
the pilot did not indicate he had heard the ATIS, the tower
must repeat that information.
Cessna 172 FJDS ten miles southwest, four thousand five
hundred, for landing.
not say the magic words.
Kelowna weather is below VFR minima, only IFR or Special VFR
traffic is permitted. What are your intentions?
Pilot: Uh, I guess
we'll go back to Penticton.
doesn't get the hint.
Kelowna altimeter 29.94.
You really hear conversations
like that. Sometimes they go back and forth for some
time before the pilot either remembers the magic words, or
gives up and goes away.
Sometimes your request for
special VFR will be turned down. Either the controller
does not feel that any more VFR traffic can safely operate in
the control zone given the current conditions, or the
controller has inbound IFR traffic. In either case you
can ask again later.
If you do request and receive a
SVFR clearance, you must remain clear of cloud, and if
transiting a control zone (not landing there) you must
maintain 500' agl. At night you may request SVFR, but
only for the purpose of landing.
Student pilots may not
operate in SVFR. A student pilot permit says "day
VFR only" and that does not include special VFR.
the weather is really bad, you shouldn't be flying, as this
joke illustrates. It saves time, money, and possibly your
life to take a cheap
flight on an airline instead of piloting a small airplane
into unsuitable weather.
Explanation of Controlled Airspace
To answer this one, you need to know the definition given in
101.01, reproduced at the top of this page, in
(1) Control zones are only one type of controlled
airspace, and there aren't any regulations we refer to
specifically as "control zone regulations."
Security regulations of one sort or another are in force
everywhere these days, even at K-Mart. They don't have
anything to do with controlled airspace.
(3) Special VFR
flight is only permitted in a control zone -- there is no
other place that SVFR is permitted. But if the weather
is good, you don't have to be under SVFR to operate in a
(4) Right out of the CARs: "an air
traffic control service is provided."
(1) As stated in CARs
602.114 for controlled airspace
(2) Those are the
uncontrolled airspace minima.
(3) Vertical cloud
clearance in Canada is always 500'.
cloud clearance in Canada is always 500'. Three
miles is the visibility requirement in controlled
A low level airway is Class E airspace. VFR traffic
does not need to contact the controller, or be on
frequency, but ATC service is provided to IFR traffic. As it
is controlled airspace, you require controlled airspace
weather minima. Another place you find Class E airspace
is in a Class D control zone, after the tower closes for the
Controlled airspace requires controlled airspace weather
601.08 requires you to have an ATC clearance before
entering any part of the Class C control zone.
602.117 requires at least 1 mile visibility for
airplanes under Special VFR.
Helicopters may have half the airplane
visibility requirements, so 1/2 mile is correct.
Special VFR exists only in control zones, so if you are under
SVFR, you must be in a control zone.
(1) There is no control tower in an Aerodrome Traffic
(2) Yes, you need permission prior to
(3) The circuit is inside the control zone. You
must call outside the control zone.
(1) Three miles visibility is required in
controlled airspace, not five.
(2) Even gliders and
balloons occasionally make flights inside class B.
There is no such thing as a Class B Airspace Endorsement.
Canadians don't have endorsements. An endorsement is an
(4) You require an ATC clearance to
operate in Class B airspace, and the flight is considered to
be CVFR (controlled VFR).
You require a clearance in order to enter the control
zone. Despite the proverb, it is much easier to get permission
to enter a control zone than forgiveness for entering without
(1) You can't call for clearance to enter after
entering the control zone.
(2) Ten miles is a bit
far. You might not even be on their radar yet. One to three
miles outside would be better.
(3) As long as you have
permission before crossing the invisible line, you're
(4) A control zone typically has a three to five mile
radius. The circuit is well inside the zone, so if you
waited until right before joining, you would already be inside
the control zone.
This is a nasty question. You can argue for all the
choices being at least slightly wrong. The only way I
know for sure that choice (3) is correct, is that the
reference for the question is CARs
601.08, which is about obtaining a clearance and
maintaining contact, not about weather minima.
(1) It is
true that you must exit the airspace if the weather
deteriorates below VFR. This is the wrong answer because
you can't be otherwise authorized. If you're VFR
you need 500'/1 mile/3 miles in controlled airspace, and it's
not a control zone, so you can't get SVFR.
(2) A clearance
is always required in Class C airspace, not just in class C
(3) You must maintain a "continuous
listening watch," while in class C airspace, but if you
only have one radio you may ask for and receive permission to
leave the frequency briefly, in order to amend a flight plan,
call your company, monitor ATIS, or the like. You could even
arrange in advance to enter the airspace without a radio, for
example if you were coming to get your radio fixed at the
maintenance facilities at the class C airport. One could argue
that because this answer choice says "establish and
maintain" communications, and the question says
"operating within" the airspace, that this answer
choice is not quite correct. You should of course
establish contact before you are within the
(4) "Radar Service" is not an agency,
but a service provided by ATC.
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This page written 8 October 2002 by Robyn Stewart.
Last revised 29 December 2002.
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