Airspace classes

Class A & B

These are altitude based controlled airspace.

Class A starts at either 

  • 18,000, 
  • 23,000 or 
  • 27,000ft

depending on where you are in Canada and goes up to 60,000ft. (Class E starts at 60,000 ft again)

Class B starts at 12,500ft and ends at the start of Class A

Unless something has gone drastically wrong with your RPA flight, Class A & B are typically not be relevant to drone operations.

Airspace altitude is ALWAYS referenced Above Sea Level (ASL/MSL) unless it specifically states on a chart AGL (above ground level)


Class C though E

These classes of airspace typically surround busier airports (in the form of a control zone/CZ) or provide low level flight corridors between airports. They are all controlled airspace and you will need permission from Nav Canada to operate within this space.

Classes C, D & E around airports are the “upside down wedding cake” type airspace. 

When classes C & D are not in operation they revert to class E

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Class F – this is a specific type of airspace that can be designated as

  • CYA (advisory),
  • CYR (restricted) or
  • CYD (danger). 

CYA (Class F – advisory) is usually associated with operations such as training, soaring, parachute activity, agricultural activities, etc. You don’t have to have permission to enter CYA airspace however you should be aware of the activity taking place within the airspace and not cause a hazard to aviation safety. Both basic and advanced licensed pilots are allowed to fly in CYA airspace

CYR (Class F – restricted) airspace is restricted for a specific purpose (eg, around a prison or military training airbases) and you need to obtain permission to operate within this area. Permission is typically obtained from the User Agency (the agency that maintains the specific facility). CYR is accessible to both basic and advanced licensed pilots.

CYD (Class F – danger) is similar to CYR but located in specific areas over the ocean (in international waters) so for the majority of RPAS pilots this type of airspace would not be relevant to their operations, however if they did want to fly within this airspace then permission would still need to be obtained from the relevant user agency. 

Class F airspace assumes the same management thereof as per the class of airspace surrounding it. It is for this reason that this type of airspace can be either controlled or uncontrolled. If CYA airspace is surrounded by controlled airspace then this class F will also be classified as controlled and would therefore be an “advanced” operation and Nav Canada permission would be needed as well as the user agency (if CYR or CYD). If uncontrolled airspace surrounds class F airspace then this Class F is also uncontrolled but remember, you might still need permission from the user agency to operate within this area if it is “restricted”.

Controlled airspace and Restricted airspace are NOT the same thing.

Class G
Does not fit into any of the other airspace categories. This is uncontrolled airspace. UAV pilots are free to operate their aircraft in this type of airspace on a basic or advanced license so long as they do not fly in a negligent manner or impede the safety of aviation or the safety of other persons.

Remember there are still distance limitations within both controlled and uncontrolled airspace. Basic operators cannot fly;

  • closer than 3NM from an airport
  • closer than 1NM from a heliport. 

Advanced operators can fly closer however they need to follow the established procedures of the airport/heliport in question – ie. call the airport/heliport in question and coordinate the flight with them.

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