I would like to understand the difference between Special Use Airspace (SUA) and Special Activity Airspace (SAA). I found the following definitions.

Eurocontrol Lexicon for SUA (from FAA):

Airspace of defined dimensions identified by an area on the surface of the earth wherein activities must be confined because of their nature and/or wherein limitations may be imposed upon aircraft operations that are not a part of those activities.

Eurocontrol Lexicon for SAA (from FAA):

[U.S.] Any airspace with defined dimensions within the National Airspace System wherein limitations may be imposed upon aircraft operations. This airspace may be restricted areas, prohibited areas, military operations areas, air ATC assigned airspace, and any other designated airspace areas.

Can you please help me to understand what the difference is?


1 Answer 1


SAA is a project being undertaken to unify how SUA's (and ATCAA's) are defined, managed, and shared.

  • [SAA will] define SUAs and ATCAAs in a consistent manner using an editing tool
  • Use a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) to distribute that data to interested users
  • Manage the schedule and status of those airspaces through a SOA.

SAA is part of the System Wide Information Management (SWIM).

In short, SAA encompasses SUA, ATCAA, etc.

Source: SAA Modernization (.ppt file)

  • $\begingroup$ SUA is defined by Title 14 CFR Part 73 $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Oct 13, 2016 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ defined as in regulatory definition of what constitutes special use airspace. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Oct 13, 2016 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ Reading thru the presentation I see where the discussion is about how to define a specific SUA (part of the management initiative). 14 CFR is the legal definition - which is interesting in that it only describes restricted and prohibited airspace. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Oct 13, 2016 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry: From the AIM: Warning areas, MOAs, alert areas, CFAs, and national security areas (NSA) are nonregulatory special use airspace. / Off coast warning areas also exceed the territorial waters, which is I guess why they're not defined via regulatory means. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Mar 3, 2021 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ That explains it. I did know about Warning areas from my USAF days. They're in international airspace so there's no legal authority over them. They were defined for two reasons; 1. To allow for scheduling management of the areas, and 2. For use in NOTAMs so that everyone else could know when to stay clear. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Mar 3, 2021 at 19:56

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