Class E Revisited

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#1
I know there have been posts about Class E in the past (in fact, there's one on page 1 of this forum now), but getting direct answers to exactly WHEN one must get approval for Class E is a tough one. According to the FAA study guide, you "normally" don't need approval to fly in Class E. They don't elaborate further in that document.

I'm studying for my Part 107 - can someone confirm I have this right?

Obviously, the 700/1200/14500-foot Class E floors don't normally concern us, since we're not supposed to go that high (but see my comment later). From what I understand, I would need approval to fly in the airspace of a Class E airport. I believe this is denoted on a sectional chart by a dashed magenta ring around an airport, looking very similar to Class D, but magenta instead of blue. I believe I would also need approval to fly in the airspace of an airport that becomes Class E only during certain hours of the day. An example of this would be a Class D airport whose tower closes at, say, 18:00, and becomes Class E in off-hours as noted on the back of the sectional chart.

Conversely, I don't believe I need approval to fly in a Class E Surface Extension of a Class D airport - these are the areas denoted by a dashed magenta area hanging off the side of Class D airspace, or in other disconnected areas not necessarily surrounding an airport.

How about this scenario - I need to inspect a tower that rises 800' AGL. I'm allowed to fly up to 400' over a structure so long as I remain with 400' laterally of it - but this would put me up in Class E if I were in an area with a 700' floor. Do I need to get approval in this case?

Thanks for any input you all have.

John
 
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#3
Thanks, that article was also linked in the other Class E thread. It's a good overview; however, it's written from a manned aircraft perspective and doesn't really address the special considerations we sUAS operators must follow with regard to waivers and notification.
 
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#4
BTW - the answer to your question is here:

§107.41 Operation in certain airspace.
No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization from Air Traffic Control (ATC).
 
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#5
Therein lies the confusion - I found this on another thread:

Ref 14 CFR 107.41 Class E Surface Area Authorizations:
.....

Therefore, effective immediately, we only need to provide authorizations for Class E airspace if the airport itself is a Class E airport.

If you're seeking to fly in a Class E extension to Class D, C and E airspace you do not need an airspace authorization so long as the airport is not in Class E airspace.
 
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#7
That does explain the surface extensions well, thank you for the link.

I took the Part 107 test today (after my original post) and there was some material on Class E in there, so it pays to know. There are a couple of things in the UAV Expert News article folks may want to be aware of. He states:

"To operate safely, UAV pilots should fully understand the national airspace system. Take a look at the three example images below and remember that Class E starts at either 700 ft and is designated on the sectional by a fussy Magenta line or at 1200 ft which is where class G tops out, “unless” it starts from the Surface. This Class E from the surface is designated by a fully enclosed dashed Magenta line. Class E surface extensions do not require authorization to fly in."

The best take-away from that article is that Class E surface extensions that do not encircle an airport do not require authorization.

Couple of other points - first, he makes mention of the fuzzy magenta line being Class E transitions with a 700' ceiling, which is correct. However, he doesn't mention a fuzzy blue line, which marks Class E with a 1200' ceiling abutting Class G. He also doesn't mention that in the absence of these transition areas, Class E begins at 14,500 feet and continues up to, but not including 18,000', which is where Class A begins. That doesn't concern us sUAS pilots, but something to be aware of.
 

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