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I don't quite understand the various categories of Class E airspace.

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    $\begingroup$ Which country or regulations are you asking about? And giving examples of the categories would help to understand your question better. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Nov 18 '15 at 23:41
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Check out this publication from the FAA

Class E airspace extends upward from either the surface or a designated altitude to the overlying or adjacent controlled airspace. When designated as a surface area, the airspace is configured to contain all instrument procedures. Also in this class are federal airways, airspace beginning at either 700 or 1,200 feet above ground level (AGL) used to transition to and from the terminal or en route environment, and en route domestic and offshore airspace areas designated below 18,000 feet MSL. Unless designated at a lower altitude, Class E airspace begins at 14,500 MSL over the United States, including that airspace overlying the waters within 12 NM of the coast of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska, up to but not including 18,000 feet MSL, and the airspace above FL 600.

This image may help to visualize it

enter image description here (source)

In more general terms its the airspace that covers most of the US below 18,000ft. Its the area where a lot of the General Aviation traffic lives (although some of it is making its way into the flight levels these days)

Side note: Depending on how you look at it class E airspace is bound to an upper limit of either 400,000 feet (76mi) which is what NASA considers re-entry altitude or what The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale defines as space starting at 62 miles so either one of those can be used as an upper bound for Class E (although officially the FAA does not define an upper bound). Re-entry point is where air drag comes into play so you would be hard pressed to get a plane over that altitude. Practically speaking the jet altitude record is held by the SR-71 Blackbird at 85,069ft and the Concorde pulls in at 60,039 ft for commercial flight.

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  • $\begingroup$ Looks like we answered at about hte same time with the same info. $\endgroup$ – SMS von der Tann Nov 18 '15 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Haha i saw your answer right after I hit post. $\endgroup$ – Dave Nov 18 '15 at 23:45
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Class E Airspace If the airspace is not Class A, B, C, or D, and is controlled airspace, then it is Class E airspace. Class E airspace extends upward from either the surface or a designated altitude to the 14-3 Figure 14-2. An example of a prohibited area is Crawford, Texas. overlying or adjacent controlled airspace. When designated as a surface area, the airspace is configured to contain all instrument procedures. Also in this class are federal airways, airspace beginning at either 700 or 1,200 feet above ground level (AGL) used to transition to and from the terminal or en route environment, and en route domestic and offshore airspace areas designated below 18,000 feet MSL. Unless designated at a lower altitude, Class E airspace begins at 14,500 MSL over the United States, including that airspace overlying the waters within 12 NM of the coast of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska, up to but not including 18,000 feet MSL, and the airspace above FL 600.

You can find more about it here: https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/pilot_handbook/media/PHAK%20-%20Chapter%2014.pdf

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