Aviation In Canada

Friday, June 17, 2005

Special Use Airspace

In every region in Canada, we have blocks of airspace set aside for activities and purposes that could be, or are, dangerous to aviation. Rocket ranges, high-density gliding and paradrop activities, etc. There are also areas which have access restricted for security reasons, such as penetentiaries and other high-profile buildings and structures (the Confederation Bridge to PEI has one, for example, to keep flyers away from it under penalty of law).

Their designations often give a clue to the location of the airspace, the activities within, and the nature of the airspace, whether restricted, advisory or whatever. They'll often be noted on charts with letter-number combinations for that very reason. They'll be identified by the characters "CY" denoting for international purposes that the area is within Canadian airspace (including airspace delegated to Canada). Then there will be a letter for the nature of the airspace, a number identifier which also denotes the region it is in, and a letter in parentheses will accompany the designation in the case of advisory areas to denote the type of activity contained within.

For example, CYA306(T) in the Winnipeg FIR is an advisory area, is contained within Saskatchewan, and is designated for training. Whta kind of training isn't really necessary to know, but it is of a concern enough to warrant an advisory area, so the activities inside may be dangerous enough for non-pariticipating pilots to avoid. Also, some areas have more than one activity within, and this is occasionally noted as well. CYA122(A)/(H) is an advisory area in British Columbia, and it contains aerobatic activities as well as hang gliding.

CYRs are restricted areas, and these should be avoided, period. Unless a pilot has the expressed permission from the "user agency", pilots are not allowed to enter these areas. As cited earlier, these may be established for rocket ranges or security reasons, or whatever else, and pilots must remain clear. The "user agency" is defined as the person, group or establishment for which the CYR was established for, and they are the only group who can grant permission for entry. Sometimes these groups will authorize ATC use for a period of time, but again, it's these groups that have the final say. CYR724, near Fredericton and Saint John, NB, is a prime example, since it is statistically the most violated restricted airspace in Canada, despite it being charted as "continuous live firing to FL250".

In review, they are named as follows (reference AIP Canada, RAC2.8.6):
-"CY" for Canadian nationality;
-"R" for restricted, "A" for advisory, "D" for danger (international waters only)
-3-digit number denoting region and name within
100-199 British Columbia
200-299 Alberta
300-399 Saskatchewan (that's as hard to type as it can be to say)
400-499 Manitoba
500-599 Ontario
600-699 Quebec
700-799 Atlantic Canada (maritimes plus Newfoundland)
800-899 Yukon
900-999 Northwest Territories (including Arctic Islands)
-Letter(s) in parentheses for advisory areas
A for acrobatics
F for aircraft flight test areas
H for hang gliding
M for military operations
P for parachuting
S for soaring
T for training