Can an aerodrome be controlled, even if the only associated airspace is classified G?

E.g. can such an aerodrome have a control tower with the authority to give takeoff and landing clearances and taxi instructions?

I know the opposite is possible (uncontrolled aerodromes in class D airspace for example).

I am not asking about AFIS aerodromes, since AFIS is not an air traffic control service.

Please provide examples and/or references to ICAO SARPs or national regulations.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking about a specific country or set of regulations? ICAO doesn't make regulations directly, it's up to each country to do that. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ ICAO makes Standards and Recommended Practises. ICAO Standards do not preclude the development of national standards which may be more stringent than those contained in an Annex. My question is about ICAO Standards as outlined in the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago 1944) and its annexes. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ Under FAA the answer is "yes". So the question is "why not classify it as Class D?" The reason is that a Class D airport must have a certain level of weather reporting, and these controlled Class G airports dint comply $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Ref aviation.stackexchange.com/a/21900/3504 $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 19:50

3 Answers 3


An airport in class G airspace can have an operating control tower. This is a case of a towered airport in uncontrolled airspace. The airspace is uncontrolled but tower communication must be established within a certain distance and for use of the airports runways.

There are applicable regulations that address this situation. 14 CFR §91.126 (d) requires pilots to establish and maintain communication with a Class G towered airport before entering a 4 NM radius below 2500 AGL.

As of today, Lake City, Florida (KLCQ) is an example of such an airport, although that will change at some point in the future.

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  • $\begingroup$ Great example, thank you $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 8:29
  • $\begingroup$ It looks like KLCQ won't be class G for much longer. Interestingly, the Chart Supplement, IFR en route chart and Garmin Pilot all say already that it's class D to 2500'. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife Thanks I updated the answer to reflect that new information. $\endgroup$
    – ryan1618
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 0:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The A/FD describes the airspace around KLCQ as class D when the tower is in operations, despite what is shown in the chart. It may be represented this way on the VFR sectional due to the fact that KLCQ tower operations can be closed outside of the normal posted hours and that CTAF should be monitored by traffic. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 0:41
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @CarloFelicione. I'm not sure if the class D when operations in effect is new or not, but the 14 CFR §91.126 (d) does describe required procedures for operations at a class G airport with a control tower. Whether KLCQ fit that bill now or in the past, the reg is there and the situation can arise. $\endgroup$
    – ryan1618
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 23:43

Well, sort of. In Class G airspace you often find ATZs. This is airspace 2nmi radius to 2,000ft around an aerodrome that is controlled by the aerodrome so take-off and landings. They are often not surrounded by Class-A or Class-D airspace and just control the immediate area around the aerodrome, and are full ATC unit, although sometimes only an AFIS.

So, there is a little controlled airspace associated with it, but very little. An aircraft must have permission to penetrate it. In the UK a clear example is EGCL (Fenland).

However, if you count this as too much controlled airspace for your question, then no. It would not be practical to control landings or take-off when the aircraft is immediately in uncontrolled airspace. Fenland ATZ

  • $\begingroup$ In fact, according to bfgc.co.uk/VFR_Guide.pdf, "An ATZ conforms to the Class of Airspace in which it is situated thus, for example, in Class G Airspace Rule 45 will apply but in Class D Airspace the requirements of Class D will apply in addition (UK AIP section ENR 1.4 refers)." If I'm reading that correctly, an ATZ would still be classified G if it was situated in G airspace. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ Great find! Thanks! I think that is mostly for ATZs inside higher class airspace (so rules for class-D apply) but very interesting! Aircraft still need the ATSU permission to penetrate the ATZ though. $\endgroup$
    – D. Clayton
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ I must say that I've never seen the phrase "numerous ditches" on a chart before. So I'm confused, in a class G ATZ does the tower have "the authority to give takeoff and landing clearances and taxi instructions?" If so, why not just make it class D? $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ @TomMcW No, the ATSU within an ATZ does not have control over takeoffs and landings. You need permissions to penetrate an ATZ, this permission can either be bound to certain requirements (transponder, type of aircraft, color of your underwear) or to the requirement to establish a two-way communication with the ATSU of the ATZ airfield. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 6:06
  • $\begingroup$ You can find ATZs inside higher class airspace, but not always remember. $\endgroup$
    – D. Clayton
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 6:46

No. By definition, Class G airspace is uncontrolled. The airport would have to be in a minimum of Class D airspace for it to be controlled.

  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any official reference? I am not asking about the air above the aerodrome, but the aerodrome itself. I know examples of uncontrolled airfields within class D airspace, so it seems there may not be a direct correlation between airspace class and whether or not an aerodrome is controlled. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/…. ATC has no authority nor requirement to regulate class G airspace. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ Just watch the NOTAM, in some cases (military deployment, ..) the class G airspace can be very quickly "reclassified" to the class D space. But - you're right, it's not class G anymore. $\endgroup$
    – gusto2
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 7:55
  • $\begingroup$ @CarloFelicione Class E airspace can go to the ground too but the AIM states that that pilots should contact the tower if it is in operation, even if the towered airport exists in class G airspace. A good example of this, in addition to the one is the Houston Executive Airport (KTME) - flew in there the other day and they have a tower and even separate ground and clearance delivery frequencies but the airspace is class G to 700' AGL. $\endgroup$
    – Pugz
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 6:19

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