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May an ultralight vehicle operating under FAR part 103 operate within Class G and E airspace while within the mode C veil surrounding a Class B airport?

Quoting directly from Title 14 CFR 91.1 Applicability

FAR 91.1(e) This part does not apply to any aircraft or vehicle governed by part 103 of this chapter, or subparts B, C, or D of part 101 of this chapter.

Part 103 addresses airspace in this way 103.17 Operations in certain airspace

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle within Class A, Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization from the ATC facility having jurisdiction over that airspace.

Where can I find a restriction that applies to ultralight operation within the mode C veil but still in Class E or G airspace?

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    $\begingroup$ It looks like you've already found the relevant regulations, what are you unsure about? Part 91 doesn't apply to ultralights. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Nov 9 '16 at 19:42
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You can fly through the mode C Veil but you need to contact the control facility first. I would consider no transponder the same as an inoperative one.

For flying into a Mode C veil without an operable transponder, the pilot needs to telephone the appropriate radar facility for the Class B airspace and ask for permission to make the flight. Upon agreeing to conditions (including direction of flight and altitude), the pilot will be given a code number that he will mention to the controller upon initial radio contact. This is the same procedure that a pilot with an inoperative transponder/encoder would use to fly in or out of the Mode C-veil airports for avionics repair.

You were previously allowed to operate in the Veil with out a transponder but the FAA has since changed its ruling on that.

The FAA on January 13 withdrew the "Mode C Veil Exemption" (SFAR No. 62), which permits aircraft without altitude encoding transponders to operate out of specified satellite airports within 30 nm of a Class B airspace primary airport. It's not yet known if the FAA is going to start immediately enforcing the provisions of FAR 91.215, requiring all electrically equipped aircraft to have Mode C transponders when operating within a Mode C veil.

You can find more here.

Since the question has been expanded a bit ill add to my answer. Keep in mind im no lawyer and this is simply my advice. Your best bet for this one is to call your local FSDO and get an official answer from the FAA. Since 103 does not explicitly cover this case, in reality if you were to be in breach of it (or the FAA thinks you are) they may reference the precedent set by part 91 on the matter even though there is no explicit rule in part 103.

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    $\begingroup$ None of the material cited in this answer applies to operations governed by §103. Apart from that fact, this would be a good answer concerning operations governed by §91. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Nov 10 '16 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ There is no explicit ruling in FAR 103 on the matter as there is in 91. In practice the FAA can and may very well use the precedent set in other regulations (91) to make a ruling should an infraction occur. $\endgroup$ – Dave Nov 10 '16 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ That is simply not how FAA regulations work; defined applicability and term definitions exist for a reason. If what you suggest were true, UAS systems under §107, and moored balloons, kites, amateur rockets, and hobby model aircraft under §101 might all be required to have transponders or otherwise have exemptions for operation in the "mode C veil". Innumerable other "precedents" would come into play wreaking havoc on the otherwise carefully laid out aviation regulations. This is simply not the case. As is clearly defined, §91 is not governed by §135, and §103 is not governed by 91, etc. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Nov 10 '16 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ Im implying that this is how the US legal system works, not how the FAA regulations work. I am not saying that all part 91 regulations apply elsewhere but in the event of an infraction and case hearing (if they chose to go that far) they can use other precedent to come to a ruling on the matter. $\endgroup$ – Dave Nov 10 '16 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ There is no infraction when no regulation is broken. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Nov 10 '16 at 21:17
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Yes, an ultralight aircraft operated under 14 CFR 103 can be operated within the "Mode C Veil" within the limitations of §103.

As you note, 14 CFR 91—including §91.215, ATC transponder and altitude reporting equipment and use—does not apply to ultralights governed by §103.

The limitations of §103 do generally prohibit: operations over congested areas; operations in certain types of airspace; operations in certain types of airspace.

§103.15 Operations over congested areas.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons.

§103.17 Operations in certain airspace.
No person may operate an ultralight vehicle within Class A, Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization from the ATC facility having jurisdiction over that airspace.

§103.19 Operations in prohibited or restricted areas. No person may operate an ultralight vehicle in prohibited or restricted areas unless that person has permission from the using or controlling agency, as appropriate.


Let's look at an example, the MSP Class B area:

enter image description here

Point A, near A R S Sports Strip (7Y7), would be an area where operations under §103 would be allowable. It is not a congested area, and is not a type of airspace for which operations under §103 are prohibited.

Points B, C, and D, however, would be areas where operations under §103 are generally prohibited. Point B is arguably over congested areas, and by that determination would therefore be prohibited under §103.15. Points C and D are in Class D and B airspace, respectively, and are therefore prohibited under §103.17. The exception would be where the operation has received prior authorization as specified in §103.17 above.

For what it is worth, I have personally witnessed ultralight type aircraft flying in the area of Point A.

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Let's make it simple if your ultra light does not have an electrical system like an alternator or generator you did not have to have a transponder. If you're flying into a mode C Veil The only reason why there is a mode C Veil is because there's going to be a class Bravo airport in the middle of it.

Obviously you have to stay out of class Bravo airspace. One of the examples previous to my post there was a listing for Zone B and Zone C, you could fly in that area as long as you remained under the class Bravo Shelf! You might be flying under part 103 but the rules of far 91 and 61 still apply to you.

If you're flying under part 103 which means you're doing a VFR flight that means you do not have to have communications which means obviously you would not be able to call the controller to request a deviation. Nor could you provide any radio discreet code given to you. You would not need to do that because one you're not answering their class Bravo airspace that they're controlling and two part 91 specifically exempts you from requiring to have a transponder since you have no electrical driven system.

So yes you can fly in the mode C Veil, as long as you stay out of the class Bravo airspace, with no transponder ( as long as you have no electrical system) and you need not call anyone.

Additionally the air map above is not considered a congested area simply because it's yellow. The purpose of the yellow on an air chart is for when you're flying at night to help you identify a congested area that would be illuminated with a lot of lights. It does not necessary mean it's congested and you can't fly above that area for example if you flew above a railroad track going through a major city the railroad track would not be congested with people.

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  • $\begingroup$ Re "Let's make it simple if your ultra light does not have an electrical system like an alternator or generator you did not have to have a transponder"-- that will change soon, as drones become ever more pervasive. Hang gliders, paragliders, and sailplanes will undoubtedly be required to have transponders soon. Many sailplanes carry transponders right now. Btw for more re where ultralights may fly, specifically regarding Class-E-to-surface airspace - aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/35297/… $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Oct 9 '18 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ 14 CFR 91 does not apply to operations under §103. See 14 CFR 91.1, "Applicability": (e) This part does not apply to any aircraft or vehicle governed by part 103 of this chapter, or subparts B, C, or D of part 101 of this chapter. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Oct 19 '18 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ The purpose of the yellow area of a sectional chart is to depict "populated" areas. That depiction has nothing specifically to do with luminosity, though there may be a correlation. See the FAA's Aeronautical Chart User Guide: Yellow tinted areas indicate populated places. The FAA's concept of congestion is complex and ill defined. See this question. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Oct 19 '18 at 17:30

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