Danger Ahead: Navigating Restricted, Prohibited, and Dangerous Airspaces with Your Drone
In the article “From A to G: A Guide to Understanding and Operating in Different Airspace Classes,” we learned how airspace is classified based on its characteristics and the flight rules we follow. In addition to the classification of airspace into controlled and uncontrolled, there are other types of airspace where potential hazards for aircraft operation exist, and restrictions must be created to restrict flights temporarily or permanently. It’s crucial to be aware of these zones for proper drone flight planning and execution, as many of them may require additional permits. These zones are:
Prohibited Zone (P)
A clear example of such a zone is the area around nuclear power plants. Flying above these areas is prohibited for obvious safety reasons. However, in some countries, with the permission of the plant’s security managers, exceptions for flight can be obtained, provided that the limitations are respected.
Restricted Zone (R)
These zones are characterized by hazards to aircraft, which are often not immediately visible, such as areas where military maneuvers take place. Additionally, natural areas may be defined as restricted to protect them, requiring aircraft that wish to fly in these zones to request permits and adhere to the corresponding restrictions.
Dangerous Areas (D)
For example, you may find areas where parachute jumps occur, or where certain military exercises or maneuvers take place that do not necessitate a restricted zone. Some dangerous areas require permits or notifications from the operator, while others simply require knowledge of the reasons for the danger and the periods when these hazards may occur.
Temporary Reserved Airspace (TRA)
In the case of TRA, an aircraft not part of the reserved volume may fly if it has permission from Air Traffic Control (ATC).
Temporarily Segregated Airspace (TSA)
Similar to TRA, TSA is essentially the same, with the key difference being that you cannot obtain authorization for flight within the segregated volume under ATC authorization. Only the user of the aeronautical activity can fly within the TSA.
How to Access Information
Some countries provide maps for drone zoning that detail these types of zones. However, it’s common not to know the exact reason for the restriction, and further investigation may be necessary.
To do this, you should access the AIP. If you’re not familiar with what the AIP is, you can refer to our article here
In section AIP ENR 5.1, you will find all the information related to each of the zones explained above. Information includes:
- Horizontal dimensions of the airspace volume
- Vertical dimensions of the airspace volume, where you can see whether it starts at ground level or at an altitude that may not affect drone flight.
- The reason for the existence of the airspace
- Schedules for the activity
- Contacts for permit requests
In some cases, and depending on the country in which you are accessing the information, it may be necessary to consult other guide documents and compliance means to obtain all the necessary information.