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Thread: Question about Ultralight Operations area..

  1. #1

    Question about Ultralight Operations area..

    I have no Ultralight experience other than several friends that fly them at my local airport.. I am also not familiar with FAR 103 other than recently reading it..
    My question arrives from FAR 103.17 and "the lateral limits of Class E airspace" ..
    Straight up question.. What is "lateral surface area of an airport"...
    I believe this but want clarification...
    The intent here is a "control zone" .. an area depicted by a by a magenta dashed circle...
    I can't find the definition of the "control zone" I grew up with ... seems to have been replaced by the term "surface area"

    Anyone want to offer a opinion???

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    That thread makes my eyes glaze over after a few posts.....

    Here is something that will probably answer your questions:

    http://www.powerchutes.com/airspace2.asp

    Pertinent info is in the section "Class E Airspace".
    Last edited by Sam Buchanan; 09-20-2019 at 09:22 AM.
    Sam Buchanan
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  4. #4
    WOW!! I've spent my life in General and Commercial Aviation. More than 50 years. In that time I have always know, specifically, what my rules were.. Maybe it's because my livelihood depended on it..
    Thanks for the link Bill but like Sam.. after about page 3 it fried my old brain... Thanks for your link too Sam but I think I am pretty familiar with "airspace"..
    I think 103.17 was established to keep "me" from having a windshield full of ultralight when I breakout on an approach in low vis conditions.. the base of "controlled airspace" in a magenta shaded area is 700 agl. usually associated with a non-precision approach. The ' Class E Surface Area", is designed by a magenta dashed line.. (usually associated with a Precision Approach)..it's lateral limits are not equal to the 700ft vertical limits...
    So .. as I see it an ultralight can not operate inside of a magenta dashed circle (without permission) but may operate below 700ft in a magenta shaded area...
    Last edited by taledrager; 09-24-2019 at 08:06 PM.

  5. #5
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taledrager View Post
    So .. as I see it an ultralight can not operate inside of a magenta dashed circle (without permission) but may operate below 700ft in a magenta shaded area...
    That is correct.
    Sam Buchanan
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  6. #6
    Dana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taledrager View Post
    The intent here is a "control zone" .. an area depicted by a by a magenta dashed circle...
    I can't find the definition of the "control zone" I grew up with ... seems to have been replaced by the term "surface area"
    The old "control zone" became class D airspace. Class E surface airspace just extends the cloud and visibility requirements to the surface, instead of the looser requirements of class G.

    Quote Originally Posted by taledrager View Post
    I think 103.17 was established to keep "me" from having a windshield full of ultralight when I breakout on an approach in low vis conditions.. the base of "controlled airspace" in a magenta shaded area is 700 agl. usually associated with a non-precision approach. The ' Class E Surface Area", is designed by a magenta dashed line.. (usually associated with a Precision Approach)..it's lateral limits are not equal to the 700ft vertical limits...
    So .. as I see it an ultralight can not operate inside of a magenta dashed circle (without permission) but may operate below 700ft in a magenta shaded area...
    Below 700ft in a magenta shaded area it's class G airspace, formerly called "uncontrolled airspace". An ultralight can operate without permission above 700ft in the magenta shaded area, too (class E airspace).

    It's strange... the "lateral limits" of surface class E, usually around a non-towered field, extend all the way up to space and you can't fly an ultralight there without permission, but you can fly an ultralight in the class E airspace above the class D of a towered field. You can even fly an ultralight in the class E airspace above class B or C, as long as there's no surface class E under it.

    I suspect that 103.17 was updated when the airspace definitions were revised from control zones, TCAs, etc., to the current "alphabet soup" airspace, somebody didn't do a good job writing the final language, and that "within the lateral limits" was used to emphasize that the class E extended to the ground, rather than ending at 700' as it does elsewhere... but inadvertently blocked ultralights from flying above such areas, even though they can fly above class B, C, and D.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the reply Dana. I wasn't suggesting that an ultralight may not fly in Class E airspace. My only question was concerning "the Lateral Limits.."
    FYI, the former Class D airspace was called an ATA, it would have had a Control Zone as well because it had on field weather reporting.
    The Control Zone was at ANY airport with on field weather reporting.. today depicted by a dashed Magenta line and I guess today defined as Class E Surface Area..

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    Last edited by Bill Berson; 09-25-2019 at 04:21 PM.

  9. #9
    Thanks for the input. I think I have a pretty good handle on it now.. I appreciate the info..

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