Class A, B, C, D, E, F, G – Canada’s Airspace Differences

Why should airspace classification matter to you? As someone operating a drone for fun or light commercial applications (agriculture, construction, video production), chances are your flights won’t ever require special permissions or radio communications with a control tower.

But you still want to be aware of those alert areas that exist. If you’re caught flying in places where you’re not allowed, or worse yet, accused of endangering people or putting aircraft at risk, the resulting fines could be in the thousands.

Before taking any remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) into the air, being familiar with the airspace nearby is critical. The best drone operators think like pilots.

Know the Airspace Classes

Generally speaking, most available drones are limited to flying under 400 feet in Canada. That said, you’ll always want to stay clear of prohibited areas.

Remember, when you’re operating your drone, you’re sharing airspace with others, which always requires extra diligence.

Canadian airspace is broken up into seven different classes (A, B, C, D, E, F and G), and there are rules governing aircraft operating within each.

You’ll want to be familiar with these airspace categories, especially if you are flying in a new location unfamiliar to you.

C, D, E, F and G will appear on your VFR Terminal Area Chart (VTA), Visual Navigation Chart (VNC), Drone Site Selection Tool, and Canadian Airspace Viewer.

Canadian Airspace Viewer Map Overview

Class A Airspace

Generally speaking, Class A airspace extends from 18,000 feet up to and including flight level FL600 (a pressure altitude of 60,000 feet).

High-level airspace is the domain of high-performance aircraft, commercial airliners, and cargo jets.

If you wish to operate in this airspace, you will require special authorization from Transport Canada and NAV Canada (the non-profit in charge of Canada’s civil air navigation system).

Class B Airspace

This low-level controlled airspace sits between 12,500 ft and the floor of class A airspace.

Operating at this height will require SFOC authorization from Transport Canada and airspace permission from NAV Canada.

Class C Airspace

This is the controlled airspace found around large busier airports that extends from the surface to an altitude of 3,000 ft above ground level (AGL). Clearance is required before flying your RAF in this advanced operating environment.

Class D Airspace

Similar to Class C, this category refers to the controlled airspace around medium-sized airports near smaller cities where commuter aircraft, helicopters, and seaplanes, may be in use.

Class E Airspace

Class E airspace is used for operating aircraft under IFR (Instrument flight rules), a set of regulations for flying in bad weather where pilots must follow pre-determined flight routes.

Class F Airspace

CYR – This airspace denotes special-use restricted areas off limits to anyone without approval by the user agency. It is restricted airspace (appearing as CYR followed by the 3-digit region number on VTA and VNC). This airspace is found above penitentiaries or military operations areas or if flying over international water.

CYA – There is also advisory airspace (CYA followed by a 3-digit region number on VTA and VNC). No special permission is necessary to operate in these areas; however, this airspace is typically reserved for special use, including flight training, helicopter operations, hang gliding areas, etc.

Class G Airspace

If it’s not considered a part of any of the above classes, the space is considered class G. This is where RPAs can be flown without permission from NAV Canada.

However, great care and attention must be paid whenever you put your drone into the air.

You’ll always need to follow the rules and watch out for any other air traffic in the area. Any uncontrolled airspace can be dangerous if basic rules are ignored.

Courses from Coastal Drone are a fantastic way to access insights that will keep you safe and free of any accidental wrongdoing.

Contact us with any questions you may have.

Watch this sample lesson from our Basic Pilot Certification Course