FAA Provides Guidance on Restricted Areas

by Rich Stowell (Lifetime Member) on December 11, 2010

Query by SAFE Answered by Office of Chief Counsel

The Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) recently received guidance from the FAA’s Office of Chief Counsel concerning VFR operations in Restricted airspace. While reviewing an article for inclusion in its online Library, members of SAFE’s Library Editorial Review Committee (LERC) raised a key question: “Is a clearance in fact required to fly through a Restricted Area when that area is not in use?” When further research, which included interviews with instructors, the FAA, and ATC, failed to yield a consistent answer, SAFE turned to the FAA’s Office of Chief Counsel. After a four-month-long process, the following official response was received:

A clearance is not required to operate VFR through a restricted area when the controlling or using agency, as applicable, has made a determination that the restricted area is “cold”. [Cold = Not Active]

SAFE provides its members with access to online reference materials that include articles contributed by some of the industry’s top aviation educators. Each article undergoes peer review and approval by the LERC. According to LERC Chair Alan Davis, “This is a perfect example of the diligence with which our volunteer committee reviews potential articles for the SAFE Library.” He added, “Going the extra mile in this instance resulted in the clarification of an important operational detail for pilots.”

SAFE has posted a free training aid on its website that includes the two-page article, Teaching MOAs and Restricted Areas as well as the response received from the Office of Chief Counsel. To access the training aid, see http://www.SafePilots.org/documents/SAFE_Training_Aid_MOAs.pdf

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