National Airspace System
The National Airspace System is an intricate network of systems that involve the definitions of airspace both above and blow you as well as all information having to do with that airspace. Things like airports, air charts, navigation, instruments, weather, rules and regulations are all part of the National Airspace System. Airspace is defined as any block of air at any given point or time above or below your head. The habitation and control of this airspace over a particular country is what we consider national. It extends 12 nautical miles off the coast of the United States and is controlled by the air-traffic control system.
The National Airspace System when talking about the actual airspace is broken down into 6 categories designated with a letter from “A” – “G” excluding “F” and is further divided up into two more categories being controlled and uncontrolled. Controlled airspace and any airspace that is under the authority of an air-traffic controller. Likewise, uncontrolled airspace in any airspaces that is not under the authority of a controller. Class A airspace is always controlled and flight in it must be under instrument conditions. Class B airspace is the airspace that surrounds most airports people are familiar with like JFK or Logan International. Class C and D airspace are reserved for the smaller less traveled airports and airports involving heavy flight training. Class E airspace is any other airspace that is controlled that can surround and airport with out without a tower. Class G airspace is uncontrolled airspace and is subject to restrictions by weather of altitude.
Weather is another part of the National Airspace System. Weather plays a huge roll in when a pilot can or cannot fly somewhere. It also gives us limitations and challenges when actually flying. The National Airspace System has developed a way for pilots to get weather briefs and weather information so that a pilot can be completely familiar with all aspects of his flight. Along with weather publications such as the Airport Facility Directory (AFD) and aviation sectionals give pilots information about the areas they are flying in and they types of airspace expected to be encountered. The Federal Aviation Regulations or FARs defines the do’s and don’ts of the aviation industry and the Airmen’s Information Manual defines what everything is in the National Airspace System.
The air-traffic control system also plays a huge roll in the National Airspace System. For the first time in history the one might remember how on September 11, 2001 the United States shut down completely its airspace system forcing all aircraft in the air to land and all aircraft on their way to the United States to turn around. Airports were filled with planes and this was done solely with the help of the air-traffic control system. Divided up into many areas, air-traffic control has authority over many aircraft on the ground, in the air, and even in some cases not even in their personal control space. More information about the National Airspace System can be found in the FAR/AIM which is a publication put out by the FAA to give pilots standards and information. It can be located electronically online or at almost any book or pilot store.