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Cruising level requirements

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Prohibited, restricted and danger areas

Airspace reservation AIP ENR 1.4

A designated airspace or portion thereof under the control of another authority may be reserved to allow the following:

  • flights of special military significance requiring the use of controlled airspace, which would be subject to unacceptable restrictions if normal operations applied or
  • civil flights requiring passage through military airspace when weather conditions or other factors make flight on the normal air route inadvisable, or impossible, and when other routes are unavailable, or the use of such routes would impose severe economic penalties on the operation of the aircraft.

There are two types of airspace reservations:

  • fixed defined areas
  • ‘mobile’ (for example aerial refuelling, en route formation flights).

Such reservations are normally only applied during limited periods. A designated airspace or portion thereof under the control of a military ATC authority may also be reserved to confine particular activities.

In such airspace, RAAF ATC is responsible for providing separation for transiting civil or military aircraft from the areas reserved or restricted for current air defence operations.


Airspace in which a potential hazard to aircraft operations may exist, and all areas over which the operation of civil aircraft may be restricted are promulgated as follows:

  • Prohibited area – Airspace within which the flight of aircraft is prohibited.
  • Restricted area – Airspace within which the flight of aircraft is restricted  in accordance with specified conditions.
  • Danger area – Airspace within which activities dangerous to the flight of aircraft may exist at specified times.

These areas are promulgated in the AIP designated airspace handbook (DAH) and are shown on AIP aeronautical charts by boundaries outlined in red and containing the identification of the area as a letter and a number.

The letters allocated are:

Prohibited area
Restricted area
Danger area

The number identifies the area.

When used internationally, the identification of these areas are preceded  by a FIR identifier as follows;The number identifies the area.


Details are shown in ERSA or through NOTAMs
Prohibited, restricted and danger area numbers in the 900 series are allocated for temporary special use airspace such as military exercises, air shows and special events.

These areas are promulgated by AIP SUP, or FIR NOTAM for the Brisbane (YBBB) or Melbourne (YMMM) FIR as appropriate for the location.

Unless otherwise specified, vertical limits are promulgated as AMSL when at or below the transition altitude, or as a flight level when above the transition altitude. The abbreviation ‘SFC’ means the surface of the ground or water. ‘NOTAM’ indicates that the vertical limits or hours of activation will be notified by NOTAM.

The promulgated vertical limits of prohibited, restricted and danger areas include all the buffers necessary for the protection of aircraft operating outside these areas. Therefore, the promulgated levels may be used by aircraft avoiding the areas, except where the vertical limit abuts controlled airspace, in which case a clearance is required.

Flight within prohibited areas

Flight within a prohibited Area is not permitted in any circumstances.

Flight within restricted areas

Flight within active restricted areas is subject to the conditions published in AIP (ERSA and DAH) and NOTAM. To obtain access to a restricted area or airspace pilots Operations – Cruising level requirements – Prohibited, restricted and danger areas .54 CASAVFRG Version 5.0 must request approval from the controlling authority (see ERSA PRD). When an ATC service is available within that airspace, approval may be requested from ATC directly, in the same manner as a clearance request to enter CTA.

To assist with shared use of airspace, all restricted areas have been allocated an RA conditional status. This status will give an indication as to the likelihood of obtaining a clearance to fly through restricted airspace. NOTAMs may be issued to indicate changes to the RA conditional status, and should be checked prior to flight planning.

RA conditional status legend

RA1 – Pilots may flight plan through the restricted area and under normal circumstances expect a clearance from ATC.

RA2 – Pilots must not flight plan through the restricted area unless on a route specified in ERSA GEN FPR or under agreement with the Department of Defence. However, a clearance from ATC is not assured. Other tracking may be offered through the restricted area on a tactical basis.

RA3 – Pilots must not flight plan through the restricted area and clearance will not be available. See Rules of the air—VFR navigation—Prohibited, restricted and danger areas for further details.

Civil aircraft operating in military restricted areas or airspace in which an ATC service is provided will receive a service equivalent to that of Class C airspace, unless specified otherwise by ERSA FAC.

When compliance with an air traffic clearance requires flight:

  • from controlled airspace into an adjoining active restricted area or airspace;
  • through an active Restricted Area or airspace into adjoining controlled airspace; or
  • through an active Restricted Area or airspace within controlled airspace;

the pilot in command may assume that ATC has obtained approval for the flight.

Flight within danger areas

Approval for flight within a danger area outside controlled airspace is not required. However, it is the responsibility of the pilot in command to be aware of the dangerous activity and take appropriate precautions.

Lanes of entry AIP ENR 1.4

Lanes of entry are established to permit passage to and from specified Class D CTR without entering an adjacent civil or military control zone. The vertical limits provide separation from overlying control or restricted areas.

When using these lanes, pilots must:

  • operate under VFR
  • conform with the general flight rules regarding terrain clearance, flight over populous areas, and low-level restricted areas
  • operate not higher than the altitude specified as the upper limit in the section being flown
  • keep to the right.

Cruising level AIP ENR 1.7

VFR flights must be flown at a cruising level appropriate to its magnetic track according to the following diagram and the table of cruising levels:

  • when cruising level is 5000 ft or higher; or
  • when practicable when cruising level is below 5000 ft (CAR 173).

VFR cruising levels (North of 80 degrees South)

Magnetic tracksFrom 000° through East to 179°From 180° through West to 359°
Cruising altitudes  (Area QNH)1500
Cruising flight levels  (1013 hPa) [alt]*115

VFR below 5000 ft in Class G airspace

Pilots should be aware that VFR aircraft outside controlled airspace may  be operating at random levels below 5000 ft AMSL.

Gliders and balloons operating in controlled airspace will be assigned block levels.

Limited radio and no radio procedures

Authorisation may be given to Australian-registered aircraft to vary the requirements for the carriage of radio equipment as specified in radio communication and navigation requirements set out in aforegoing section dealing with Operations—Non-controlled aerodromes—General—Airmanship. Authorisations are given by the relevant CASA regional office.

Limited radio or non-radio at or above 5000 ft

A non-radio aircraft operating in Class G airspace may, due to stress of weather, operate above 5000 ft to the minimum extent necessary for the safe conduct  of the flight, provided:

  • the aircraft cruises at a VFR level
  • the cruise is conducted in VMC
  • as soon as is practicable, the aircraft descends in VMC to below 5000 ft  to continue flight in VMC.

A pilot not able to comply with these requirements must proceed to the nearest suitable aerodrome and land.

A non-radio aircraft, other than a glider may operate above 5000 ft within  the confines of a published Danger Area which is promulgated specifically for  non- radio operations, or identified as permitting non-radio operations. Gliders may be authorised to operate above FL200 and monitor an approved frequency other than the area VHF frequency. The area of operation will be advised by NOTAM.

Limited radio or non-radio in CTA

If total or partial failure of mandatory radio communications equipment occurs before flight commences and repair facilities are available, repairs must be made before the flight proceeds. Where repair facilities are not available, and flight to the nearest appropriate repair facility entails flight in controlled airspace, the flight may proceed providing that for flight in controlled airspace ATS is advised of the radio failure and a clearance for the flight is obtained from ATC.

For operations at non-controlled aerodromes refer to the non-controlled aerodrome section of this publication set out in aforegoing section dealing with Operations—Non-controlled aerodromes—General.

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New rules came into effect from 2 December 2021 that cover the general operating and flight rules. This website is now out of date and will be switched off in the new year. A PDF copy of the VFRG is available for download.
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