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Danger Ahead: Navigating Restricted, Prohibited, and Dangerous Airspaces with Your Drone

Table of Contents

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)

As the name suggests, this is a defined area where aircraft flights are prohibited. Typically, these zones are restricted by the state itself for safety reasons. The only way to fly in these zones is through a special state permit or by an individual or company authorized to grant it.

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)

Restricted zones are volumes of airspace defined within which aircraft flights are restricted according to specified conditions. No aircraft should fly in a restricted zone (R) without first complying with the restrictions, unless they have permission from the relevant authority.

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)

Dangerous areas are volumes of airspace where, as the name suggests, activities that are potentially hazardous to aviation may occur at times. The main purpose of these areas is to alert airspace users to potential hazards.

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.

Other Airspace

Temporary Reserved Airspace (TRA)

TRA are volumes of airspace reserved for specific activities. These zones are created for aeronautical activities such as military exercises, airshows, or other activities that may pose a risk to other airspace users. In some cases, these airspace volumes are reserved to ensure that no unauthorized aircraft are flying to provide safety for events taking place on the ground, such as political or national events.

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.