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User avatar
By Wonder Boy
#405329
The issue with UAV's and over 700', they are capped at a 400' height.

(unless a structure could be found on the edge of a surface area they could launch from outside the surface area, (maintaining the 400' radius from the structure) fly up over it. As long as the structure was higher than 700'. )

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?S ... 7&rgn=div5
§107.51 Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.
A remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small unmanned aircraft system must comply with all of the following operating limitations when operating a small unmanned aircraft system:

(a) The groundspeed of the small unmanned aircraft may not exceed 87 knots (100 miles per hour).

(b) The altitude of the small unmanned aircraft cannot be higher than 400 feet above ground level, unless the small unmanned aircraft:

(1) Is flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure; and

(2) Does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure's immediate uppermost limit.

(c) The minimum flight visibility, as observed from the location of the control station must be no less than 3 statute miles. For purposes of this section, flight visibility means the average slant distance from the control station at which prominent unlighted objects may be seen and identified by day and prominent lighted objects may be seen and identified by night.

(d) The minimum distance of the small unmanned aircraft from clouds must be no less than:

(1) 500 feet below the cloud; and

(2) 2,000 feet horizontally from the cloud.
User avatar
By aeroexperiments
#405330
OK, so-- get a bit hypothetical and ask what if there were a tower within the Class-E-to-surface surrounding the airport. You can get 400' over the tower so-- a tower over 300' tall would allow you to legally get over 700' as far as the 400' rule goes, right? Who knows maybe that exists somewhere--
User avatar
By Wonder Boy
#405331
aeroexperiments wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:30 pm
OK, so-- get a bit hypothetical and ask what if there were a tower within the Class-E-to-surface surrounding the airport. You can get 400' over the tower so-- a tower over 300' tall would allow you to legally get over 700' as far as the 400' rule goes, right? Who knows maybe that exists somewhere--
Yes, but you would need to take off from outside the surface area and maintain a 400' radius around* the tower. So the tower would need to be close to the lateral boundary. (IMO if there was a case like that, you would just permission to be in the surface area)
Last edited by Wonder Boy on Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By aeroexperiments
#405332
PS easy to find towers over 300 AGL within Class-E-to-surface surrounding airport -- for example Ponca City has one at 500' AGL-- http://vfrmap.com/?type=vfrc&lat=36.732 ... 00&zoom=10 -- a more interesting example would be taller than 700' AGL. Then it's no stretch at all to say you would want to exceed that if you were inspecting the tower with your drone.

http://vfrmap.com/?type=vfrc&lat=36.732 ... 00&zoom=10

They have to stay within 400' of the tower horizontally and not above 400' above the tower vertically. FAR 107.51b1. (Guess that's what you were saying too.) 400' above 300+ feet gets you over 700'. Guess that's what you said.

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?S ... .2.107_151
User avatar
By aeroexperiments
#405334
I guess you are right Mike the tower isn't a good example and the 400' cap does complicate it too much. Someone who thought the Class-E-to-surface "went away" for 103.17 purposes when the weather was good could still use still use the drone forums to explore that idea but it's 100% obvious what the answer is, if that were true they'd have no problem with FAR 107.41, just fly in good weather. No need bother asking that really, it's too obvious what the answer would be.

OK never mind maybe the whole drone forum thing was a useless tangent.
#405335
Mike, I should have thought of this ages ago--

Here is one reason that the interpretation of "within in the lateral walls..." means only within, and below the top of, the innermost "well" of the stepped cylinders here (see url) just doesn't work-- http://footflyer.com/PPGBibleUpdates/Ch ... estion.htm

In mountainous terrain the height of the top of that innermost wall could go up and down in a bunch of wild sawteeth all the way around its perimeter. The height of that wall is always 700' above the ground directly below that piece of the wall. So in a case like that it would be impossible to lay a flat horizontal surface on top of that innermost "well" -- a "lid" for the well so to speak-- and say "OK this is the top of the Class-E-to-surface airspace", or "above this imaginary flat horizontal plane you are no longer "within in the lateral walls...".

If there were a mountain in the middle of the Class-E-to-surface, 1000' above the surrounding flat ground, by the "walls of the walls of the innermost well" theory, wouldn't you be no longer "within the lateral walls..." even when you were standing on top of the mountain?

Then there's the alternative argument that the concept of "within the lateral walls..." may go all the way to outer space but there's some sort of airspace change at 700' AGL-- yes it's true as I said in post viewtopic.php?p=405298#p405298 (starting with phrase "Or take the simple case of Class-E-to-surface airspace designated for an airport like at Newport Oregon-" about halfway down, middle of fourth paragraph from end) that when you climb through 700' you are now ALSO in the Class E airspace delineated by ANOTHER part JO 7400 --the airspace with the 700' floor- but you are STILL "within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport" so it doesn't matter. You are still in Class E airspace to boot but that's not a necessary element of being "within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport".

Any way you slice it you really can't say something special happens as we climb or descend through 700' AGL as we're flying over the ground surface that is encircled by a dashed magenta line enclosing the airport whose approaches it protects, e.g. Class-E-to-surface airspace that is "designated for an airport." (Nothing special happens at at that altitude within the Class-E-to-surface "extensions" either.)
Last edited by aeroexperiments on Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By aeroexperiments
#405336
Stay focussed on this-- everything else is noise right now--

viewtopic.php?p=405323#p405323


*************

This is worth pursuing in my opinion-- It's not so cut and dried that we should just assume the Jan 2018 Memorandum re 107.41 will permanently resolve the issue for us if we take no action to get confirmed in some sort of FAA legal interpretation that the Memorandum was well-founded, and also the logic of the Memorandum applies to FAR 103.17 as well as to 107.41.

Here's an example of confusion on a related topic-- (SVFR clearance within Class-E-to-surface "extensions" not surrounding an airport) (comment to me, from an aviation forum).

"Sure, during my rotorcraft checkride, the DPE asked me, "if the field (KSTS) is IFR and you can get an SVFR clearance to depart, can you fly with SVFR cloud clearance/vis through the echo extensions. After a torturous discussion he finally showed me his long correspondence with the FAA and finally a letter from the FAA stating that there is no known mechanism to grant an SVFR clearance in a type 2 echo airpace (like at KSTS). I will reach out try to get a copy of the letter. "

I hope the Jan 2018 Memorandum is our opportunity to gain clarity without a "long correspondence".
User avatar
By magentabluesky
#405337
Wonder Boy wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:46 am
Just an FYI, that's not my approach, that's what the FAA Commissioners Office told me.
. . . .
Reference to your “approach” is only to identify the concept. From hence forth I will refer it as "the JO7400 upside down layered wedding cake".
Steve (aeroexperiments) wrote:I don't think terminology like "When the control zone was in effect" ever appeared in the FAR's, and certainly not in part 103, and probably not in the AIM either, but you could see why pilots and controllers might adopt that lingo as a handy shorthand for whether or not an aircraft could enter that area without requesting SVFR.
. . . .

"When the control zone was in effect" was the official FAA interpretation of the practical application of control zones. It was the past practice before Class E surface. "When the control zone was in effect" was accepted and propagated by ground schools, EAA, AOPA, colleges, universities, and the FAA. So in the original Part 103.17 when it referenced needing prior authorization for an ultralight to enter a control zone certain conditions needed to be in effect, like an official weather observer at the field and an observation of less than 1000 and 3. So there was not a blanket prohibition against ultralights flying through airspace over airports with instrument approaches unless the airport weather was IMC and the control zone was in effect. It was conditional depending on the weather observation. It was a very practical application to serve the intended purpose of protecting IFR operations in IMC on approach to the airport. It was practical and it worked.

The current interpretations on Class E surface being propagated are really not practical at all.

The blanket application of absolute no crossing the lateral boundaries of the Class E surface is an over kill at lightly trafficked airports like Bishop or Winslow. From what I can tell neither airport has regular scheduled Part 135 or Part 121 service. There are few aircraft based at the airports with light air traffic. The weather at both airports is severe VFR most of the time. It is regulatory over kill.

The JO7400 upside down layered wedding cake interpretation does not protect the instrument approach above the transition (700ft or 1200ft). At Bishop for all but one approach (400 agl), the approach minimums are 2300 agl, 2500 agl, and 3300 agl respectively. All but one approach require a visibility of 3 miles, basic VFR. What would the JO7400 upside down layered wedding cake Class E surface be protecting, the VFR pattern to landing? That interpretation is not serving the defined purpose of Class E surface airspace of protecting the instrument approach. It becomes regulatory bureaucratic non-sense.

All I can say is the old "control zone" was practical and served the defined purpose. Those days are gone.

This is messed up.
#405338
Btw here's a (partial?) list of aviation activities that are prohibited (without prior authorization) in airspace described by language similar to FAR 103.17

I'll list the relevant FAR, the activity , and the exact language describing the airspace in which the prohibition applies.

91.155c -- Operating VFR without special VFR clearance under a ceiling when the ceiling is less than 1000' AGL-- "within the lateral boundaries of controlled airspace designated to the surface for an airport"

91.303c -- Aerobatic flight -- "Within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace designated for an airport" -- (note-- in this case no provision is made for the possibility of obtaining prior authorization)

101.33a -- Operating an unmanned free balloon-- "below 2,000 feet above the surface within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace designated for an airport"

103.17 -- Operating an ultralight vehicle -- "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" --

107.41 - Operating of a Small Unmanned Aircraft ("drone") -- "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" -- (note: right now I believe this only applies to commercial drone operations)

And here's a list of aviation activities that are ALLOWED only in airspace described by language similar to FAR 103.17

91.157 -- operations under Special VFR weather minimums (after receiving a Special VFR clearance) -- "Below 10,000 feet MSL within the airspace contained by the upward extension of the lateral boundaries of the controlled airspace designated to the surface for an airport." -- (note -- ATC handbook (7110.65W, para. 7-5-1-a 2), gives descriptor "Only within the lateral boundaries of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E surface areas, below 10,000 feet MSL.")

The implication here from the language used in the ATC handbook is that a "Class E surface area" doesn't mean everywhere that Class E airspace touches the surface, rather it means the Class E airspace that touches the surface within the boundaries of a surface footprint specifically designated for an airport, e.g. a dashed magenta line completely enclosing an airport. We get the same implication by reading the AIM, and the section headings of JO 7400. However this isn't an argument that's critical to the 103.17 case because 103.17 specifically includes the qualifier "Class E airspace designated for an airport."
Last edited by aeroexperiments on Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
By aeroexperiments
#405339
magentabluesky wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:18 pm
Steve (aeroexperiments) wrote:I don't think terminology like "When the control zone was in effect" ever appeared in the FAR's, and certainly not in part 103, and probably not in the AIM either, but you could see why pilots and controllers might adopt that lingo as a handy shorthand for whether or not an aircraft could enter that area without requesting SVFR.
. . . .

"When the control zone was in effect" was the official FAA interpretation of the practical application of control zones. It was the past practice before Class E surface. "When the control zone was in effect" was accepted and propagated by ground schools, EAA, AOPA, colleges, universities, and the FAA. So in the original Part 103.17 when it referenced needing prior authorization for an ultralight to enter a control zone certain conditions needed to be in effect, like an official weather observer at the field and an observation of less than 1000 and 3. So there was not a blanket prohibition against ultralights flying through airspace over airports with instrument approaches unless the airport weather was IMC and the control zone was in effect. It was conditional depending on the weather observation. It was a very practical application to serve the intended purpose of protecting IFR operations in IMC on approach to the airport. It was practical and it worked.


I just haven't come across anything like that in my reading of the older FAR's or AIM re 103.17. I can totally see how that would be the case with approval for SVFR which is a different animal. And may well STILL be the case with approval for SVFR.

But, you were there, and I wasn't.
User avatar
By magentabluesky
#405340
Steve,

I think you will appreciate this skirmish.

The Battle of the Giants:

FAA v. NTSB Due Deference.
As we have just described, Congress has "unambiguously direct[ed] the NTSB to defer to the FAA's interpretations of its own regulations." Hinson, 57 F.3d at 1148 n.2 (citing 49 U.S.C. s 44709(d)(3));
https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/ ... -1365a.txt
Last edited by magentabluesky on Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By magentabluesky
#405342
Essentially the FAA has the authority to interpret the rule as they see fit.
A Dangerous New Precedent in FAA Enforcement Law

The aviation industry has been on notice of official FAA interpretations of the regulations by means of FAA orders, FAA handbooks, advisory circulars, general counsel rule interpretations, etc. Typically, some form of written policy guideline has been issued to put certificate holders on notice of how the rules are to be interpreted and applied. Most of these FAA publications have been considered advisory in nature and viewed by the courts as explaining good practices to employed by airmen depending on the factual circumstances.

Now, because of the recent federal appellate decision discussed in this article, the FAA attorneys can render binding interpretations of the FARs in the middle of adversary litigation! Moreover, it appears that many FAA orders and manuals, previously considered advisory, will now become binding interpretations of the regulations!
Link
User avatar
By Wonder Boy
#405343
There is only one question to be asked, there's only one thing to be acknowledged, where you
have Class E at 700', do you acknowledge the fact that is a designated altitude of class E?
User avatar
By magentabluesky
#405349
Wonder Boy wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:12 pm
There is only one question to be asked, there's only one thing to be acknowledged, where you
have Class E at 700', do you acknowledge the fact that is a designated altitude of class E?
. . . .
Mike,

Yes, by the legal definition of the airspace in JO 7400. The legal definitions of the Class E airspace in JO 7400 are layered. That is why I refer to it as "the JO7400 upside down layered wedding cake".

But you have to ignore past practices and the intent of protecting the instrument approaches under IMC to accept "the JO7400 upside down layered wedding cake". The FAA kind of boxed themselves in with the Hucker ruling. The purpose of the Class E surface airspace is to protect the IFR aircraft on the instrument approach when the weather is IMC. "The JO7400 upside down layered wedding cake" really does not give the IFR aircraft that protection.

The FAA could expand the policy and rule the Class E surface area is protected regardless of the weather and say the lateral boundaries of the Class E surface extend up to the next “different” airspace – A – B – C – or D. The FAA is the one who interprets the rules.

As far as the extensions, we should be staying clear of them. As I have said, don’t play on the railroad tracks.

I would like free and open skies for everyone. My own personal opinion is to know your local area and the air traffic routes. Be a good neighbor in the sky. I don’t see a real need to be talking to Oakland Center for Bishop airspace or Albuquerque Center for Winslow airspace for VFR weather. The air traffic just is not there. Looking at the extensions underneath the Class C airspace to the southwest of Spokane, there is just no reason to be in that airspace at any time. But that is just my opinion and the FAA’s opinion is the one that counts.

If we could only figure out what that is.
#405350
One weird thing about the "extensions" is that by the understanding I've been espousing here, they have no effect whatsoever on either VFR airplane traffic or ultralight traffic once you are above the floor of the surrounding airspace (typically 700' in most places I suspect). And below the floor of the surrounding airspace, the only effect they have on on either VFR airplane traffic or ultralight traffic is that you get to observe Class G visibility and cloud clearance requirements if you are outside the extensions and you have to observe standard Class E visibility and cloud clearance requirements if you are inside the extensions. That's ALL the extensions do, in the context of VFR airplane traffic and ultralight traffic. Nothing more. They don't let you receive and exercise a SVFR clearance, they don't make you do something different if the ceiling is below 1000' somewhere, they don't make help ensure that only one aircraft is in a given airspace under IFR or SVFR rules at a time, none of that.

But aren't most of those "extensions" far enough away from the airport that the instrument traffic they are there to protect is going to be WAY over 700'? I already posted about how you don't want someone scud-running or cloud-skimming at 699' if IFR traffic is going to be shooting out of the clouds a few hundred feet above-- even 500' above maybe-- maybe you even want 1000' of separation between IFR traffic and scud-runners -- but in a lot of the extensions won't the IFR traffic be way higher than that? You could answer that better than me Michael, I haven't studied the charts that closely or flown under IFR rules. It does seem some of them do extend pretty far from the airports whose approaches they are protecting, such that traffic scud-running just below a 700' Class E floor really wouldn't be a problem.

But still that's how I see it in terms of what the rules actually are. Once you get your head around which definitions of "surface area", "designated for an airport", etc actually work consistently with all the regs, the AIM, JO 7400, all of it, I think the Jan 2018 Memo on 107.41 is totally in synch w/ the letter of the law. And I don't think we have a prayer of getting any sort of permanent official interpretation that would let us fly in the parts of the Class-e-to-surface that actually surround the airports they are designated to protect, even on blue days w/ 100 miles visibility, after so many years of having the regs as they are. We can always try to get "prior authorization" at some specific airport of course, as 103.17 allows.

Anyway, seems that is kind of a funny thing about those "extensions", that they don't really do anything except below 700'. I did get one comment on an aviation forum saying that some controllers don't think much of them: "I'm continuing to get conflicting answers to this question. This morning I got bold and asked a controller at KSTS. He responded that when they give an SVFR clearance it's only valid in the lateral bounds of the Delta and further that they don't even control the Echo extensions. He went on to say some disparaging comments about the Echo extensions, which I won't repeat"

Steve
#405360
No more dead-horse-beating here, rather a reference to some outside material --

This is the answer one pilot got from the FAA, in writing, re whether a controller can issue clearance for flight under Special VFR rules (reduced visibility and cloud clearance minimums) in Class-E-to-surface extensions

Key phrase: "Our opinion is that E4 airspace is not part of the airspace designated as the surface area for an airport. "

This answer is totally in accordance with the January 10 2018 Memorandum we've been discussing-- http://goldsealgroundschool.com/uav-lib ... ations.pdf

I am the author of the five comments that follow ("quiet flyer") -- they may be of interest too, to anyone trying to puzzle all this out.

Here it is:
https://aviation.stackexchange.com/ques ... 6045#56045

Steve
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