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Is there a site that explains the reasoning behind each individual airspace designation?

I ask this because the sectional chart shows a 6 NM radius area centered at about 40°22'30.0"N 77°37'30.0"W where class E airspace begins at 700 feet. Neither the sectional chart, nor Google maps, nor Bing maps show anything of interest there; and nobody I asked seems to have a clue, either.

Here is the area in question:

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Aviation Meta, or in Aviation Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Feb 1, 2023 at 20:00

1 Answer 1

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Is there a site that explains the reasoning behind each individual airspace designation?

No-- unless you consider the "Federal Register" to be a "site". The reasoning behind any given individual airspace designation will be explained in NPRMs (Notices of Proposed Rule-Making) and Final Rules set forth in the Federal Register. However, it takes some effort to find this content.

I'll walk the reader through the steps I took to learn the reasoning behind the specific airspace designation in question.

  1. Got to the following link: https://www.faa.gov/uas/commercial_operators/uas_facility_maps. This is a link that is intended for use by "drone"/ sUAS/ model airplane operators, but is also highly useful for our current purpose.

  2. Under the "Quick Links" header, click on "All UAS Facility Maps And grids". (The link you are clicking on is often called the LAANC map or LAANC grid. LAANC stands for "Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability".)

  3. This (or a similar) URL should come up: https://faa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=9c2e4406710048e19806ebf6a06754ad

  4. On the upper right side of the task bar, click on the "Layer List" icon. Click "Class E5 airspace" on, and click all other options off. (Most, if not all, Class E airspace that terminates with a floor at 700' AGL is classed as "E5" airspace.)

  5. Browse around the map till you find the particular airspace structure of interest.

  6. Click on that airspace structure. You should get an inset page that has some data about the airspace. In this particular case, the page includes a line that reads "NAME: HONEY GROVE CLASS E5"

  7. Armed with that information, we need to search the latest version of the FAA's "Airspace Designations and Reporting Points" document (direct link to PDF: https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Order/2022-08-19_FAA_Order_JO_7400.11G.pdf) to see when that airspace was established. Scrolling through the "E5" airspace section, we find the relevant entry on page E-384.

  8. The document states that the airspace established is "That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6-mile radius of the point in space for the SIAP to the EWT 4 Heliport, Honey Grove, PA."-- which tells us why the airspace is not centered around the heliport itself. This appears to be the same heliport that is identified as "Stottle Memorial" on current sectional chats.

  9. The document also states "AMENDMENTS 10/03/02 67 FR 19108", telling us that the airspace was last amended 10/03/02, on page 19108 of the 67th volume of the Federal Register.

  10. A logical next step now is to type "67 FR 19108" into our browser window.

  11. In the links that come up, the second-to-top one is entitled "67 FR 19107 - Amendment to Class E Airspace; Caruthersville". This is only one page off from our target. The next step is to click on "document in context", and then select "view entire issue PDF", and then scroll down to our target page, 19108.

  12. (Here is a shortcut to that PDF: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2002-04-18/pdf/FR-2002-04-18.pdf . Scroll down to page 19108.)

  13. The title of this section is "Establishment of Class E Airspace; EWT 4 Heliport, Honey Grove, PA". The specific rationale for establishing this Class-E-to-surface airspace is described in more detail in the text that follows.

  14. The essence of the matter is encapsulated in the following text: "This amendment to Part 71 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR Part 71) provides controlled Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface for aircraft conducting Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations at the EWT 4 Heliport, Honey Grove, PA." Also: "This action establishes Class E airspace at EWT 4 Heliport, Honey Grove, PA. Development of Standard Instrument Approach Procedure (SIAP) based on the Global Positioning System (GPS), Helicopter Point in Space Approach at the EWT 4 Heliport, has made this action necessary. Controlled airspace extending upward from 700 feet Above Ground Level (AGL) is needed to contain aircraft executing the approach to the EWT 4 Heliport." Further down in the "Final Rule" we find the exact same text that appears in the "Airspace Designations and Reporting Points" document (see point #8 above). Perusing the NPRMs (Notices of Proposed Rule-Making) that preceded this Final Rule, also published in the Federal Register, might provide additional context. Federal Register citations for the relevant NPRMs are embedded within the text of the Final Rule.

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  • $\begingroup$ You can also search the Federal Register directly, once you've obtained the name of the E5 airspace from the LAANC site, but this is probably a better way to go-- $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2023 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ Fantastic answer... teach a person to fish and give them the fish! $\endgroup$
    – TypeIA
    Jan 31, 2023 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ @quiet flyer: Thanks! Exactly what I was after. Maybe the location of the PinS ensures helicopters flying under IFR do not strike the nearby power lines. As I understand it, a helicopter following IFR flies to the PinS and then proceeds to the landing location under VFR. Requiring VFR to the landing location would minimize the chance of hitting the power lines, since the pilot is forced to cross over them on the way to the landing spot. I am a student sport pilot and welcome corrections to my understanding. I know everything I just said may be either stupid or common knowledge. $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2023 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ Some useful info on the rational of helicopter Point In Space approaches has been added in chat, with useful links (but not specific to this particular heliport) -- see this chat post and following ones-- chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/62915064#62915064 $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2023 at 15:34

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