Effective January 1, 2020, a massive volume of airspace will become ADS-B airspace. Operators who want access to this airspace will need to have a certified and compliant ADS-B Out system installed before this date. If you doubt the FAA will hold firm to this mandate and end up on the wrong side of history, you’ll need to know where you can and cannot fly.
Here’s where you cannot fly (from most to least restrictive).
First, you cannot fly at or above 10,000 feet MSL over the “lower 48” (excluding the airspace at and below 2,500 feet above terrain that is above 10, 000 feet MSL). An approved ADS system that broadcasts on the 1090 MHz or the 978 MHz frequencies is required to operate in this airspace. It is controlled Class E airspace.
Second, you cannot fly in Class B airspace from the surface up to 10,000 feet MSL or, within 30 nautical miles (NM) of the nation’s busiest airports (in terms of IFR operations or passenger enplanements). These airports are listed in appendix D to part 91.
Third, you cannot fly in Class C airspace. Generally, Class C airspace extends from the surface up to 4,000 above the airport and consists of a 5 NM radius at the surface and a 10 NM radius shelf that extends no lower than 1,200 feet up to 4,000 feet above the surface. However, ADS-B airspace extends above the Class C ceiling and the 10 NM lateral boundary up to 10,000 feet mean sea level (MSL).
Next, you cannot fly over the Gulf of Mexico at and above 3,000 feet MSL within 12 NM of the coastline of the United States without an approved 1090 or 978 MHz ADS-B system. This is more controlled Class E airspace.
Finally, you cannot fly above 18,000 feet in the United States or in international airspace. All airspace above Flight Level 180 is Class A airspace. An approved ADS system that broadcasts on the 1090 MHz frequency is required in Class A and international airspace. Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, and routes in the Asia-Pacific region require an ADS-B Out system that uses the 1090 MHz frequency.
Here’s where you can fly.
All Class D airspace, excluded Class E airspace, and all Class G airspace.
Class D airspace is generally the airspace from the surface to 2,500 feet above the airport elevation (charted in MSL) surrounding airports with an operational control tower. Class E airspace that does not require an ADS-B Out system is airspace below 10,000 feet over the lower 48 or below 3,000 feet MSL within 12 NM of the coastline and not above Class B or C airspace. Finally, Class G airspace is uncontrolled airspace. Redundantly, airspace that is not Class A, B, C, D, or E.
That’s it – where you can and cannot fly without an ADS-B out system. Remember, you are not prohibited by the ADS-B out mandate from flying VFR or IFR. The mandate only regulates the airspace that requires an ADS-B out system and the performance requirements of the system. For more information, go to http://www.faa.gov/nextgen/equipadsb/
Final caveat, if your aircraft was not originally certificated with an electrical system, or has not subsequently been certified with such a system (including balloons and gliders) you’re not required to have ADS-B Out. See §91.225 for more information.
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