Section 1. General


Class D airspace areas are terminal airspace that consist of specified airspace (i.e., Surface Areas) within which all aircraft operators are subject to operating rules and equipment requirements. Service area offices are responsible for the coordination and implementation of Class D airspace designations.

  1. Generally, a surface area is designated Class D airspace to provide controlled airspace for terminal VFR or IFR operations at airports having a control tower.
  2. For non-towered airports requiring a surface area, the airspace will be designated Class E, see FAA Order JO 7400.11, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points.
  3. The designation of navigable airspace outside of the United States is the responsibility of the Rules and Regulations Group (for example, U.S. territories).
  1. Service area offices must biennially evaluate existing and candidate Class D airspace areas using the information contained in this chapter as a guideline.
  2. If the conclusion of an evaluation indicates that airspace modifications should be made, regions/service area offices must follow the applicable procedures in this order.

If the communications and weather observation reporting requirements of paragraphs 17-2-9 and 17-2-10 are met, a surface area:

  1. Must be designated where a FAA control tower is in operation. Final rules will not be published in the Federal Register prior to a control tower becoming operational at the primary airport.
  2. May be designated where a non-FAA control tower is in operation.
  3. Must be designated to accommodate instrument procedures (planned, published, special, arrival, and departure) if such action is justified and/or in the public interest. The following factors should be considered:
  1. Type of procedure, including decision height or minimum descent altitude.
  2. The actual use to be made of the procedure, including whether a certificated air carrier or an air taxi/commuter operator providing service to the general public uses it.


For special instrument procedures, consideration should be given to availability to other users.

  1. The operational and economic advantage offered by the procedure, including the importance and interest to the commerce and welfare of the community.
  2. Any other factors considered appropriate.

Class D or surface areas may be designated full-time or part-time. If part-time, the effective time must be stated in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Service area offices must ensure effective times are forwarded to AIS to be published in the NFDD.

  1. A provision may be incorporated in part-time Class D surface area designations (rules) to allow, by Notices to Air Missions, for changes when minor variations in time of designation are anticipated. To apply this provision a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and final rule must be issued which provides the following statement in the specific airspace designation: “This surface area is effective during the specific dates and times established, in advance, by a Notice to Air Missions."
  2. The effective date and time will thereafter be continuously published. Information concerning these surface areas must be carried in the following publications as applicable:
  1. The Chart Supplement U.S. for the contiguous United States, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands.
  2. The Chart Supplement Alaska.
  3. The Chart Supplement Pacific
  1. Notices to Air Missions specifying the dates and times of a designated part-time area may be issued by the appropriate facility only after coordination with the regional/service area office The service area office must assure that such action is justified and in the public interest.