What type of SUA is AR633A, the cyan racetrack-shaped SUA north of Knoxville, Tenneessee (KTYS) depicted below on sua.faa.gov?

Why doesn’t it correspond to anything on the VFR sectional?


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Re. your last point, the FAA page shows that the airspace is entirely in class A, therefore it's irrelevant to VFR flights. In fact, it isn't on any chart (at least on skyvector.com) including the IFR ones, but ATC will provide separation under IFR anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Nov 17 '15 at 18:42

This is indeed a designated air refueling track used by military tanker aircraft (all AR-nnn SUA areas are, and they all share that same general racetrack shape).

The reason why it isn't on a sectional is because it's simply not a concern to anyone who isn't in a high-performance, high-altitude airplane -- air refueling (of fixed-wing birds at least) typically takes place well into the FLs (FL280-FL330 is typical, although it may be lower or higher depending on what the tanker is gassing up), and doesn't bother anybody below.


According to this report on air crashes AR-633 (I assume the same as AR-633A now)

The cities of Oak Ridge, Knoxville, and Rockwood lie beneath AR-633, a volume of airspace used by the 134th Tennessee Air National Guard Air Refueling Group for practicing air refueling (Sect. 2.2). Although under military jurisdiction, this designated airspace is equivalent to an FAA holding pattern. AR-633 has an airspace volume of approximately 97 statute miles x 41 statute miles x I statute mile in depth. Refueling operations take place within this box of airspace. Because the military has jurisdiction over this volume of airspace and operations may be considered sensitive, it is impossible to determine whether refueling operations by the 134th Air Refueling Group occur directly over the Oak Ridge reservation. The Oak Ridge reservation encompasses an area of approximately 58 sq mi; the refueling area used by the military (AR-633) encompasses 4,000 total sq mi.

The Text List Help for sua.faa.gov defines the AR Special Use Airspace type as

TYPE: AR - Aerial Refueling Route

DEFINITION: An aerial refueling route is airspace used by military tankers that routinely refuel other military aircraft along published altitudes (in most cases above 10,000 feet AGL).

PURPOSE: Aerial Refueling Routes are identified to inform non-participating pilots of the potential danger from activities being conducted. This airspace is not prohibited as long as other aircraft provide vertical or lateral separation from the refueling aircraft. Contact the assigned FSS for AR details.

  • $\begingroup$ The area highlighted in cyan in the question doesn't seem to correspond to the 97x41-mile area mentioned in this report, since 97x41 is an aspect ratio of about 2.5:1, whereas the cyan area is about 4:1. Or is it the grey area within the cyan area that we should be looking at? $\endgroup$ Nov 16 '15 at 20:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The current area may have changed since that report was written. In the report is AR-633 and the question references AR-633A which may be the current amended version with new dimensions. However the location description puts it where the user is asking about. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Nov 16 '15 at 21:18

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