Height of controlled airspace?

To what height about ground level do countries have jurisdiction over their airspace?
Is there a limit?

I read once that if you own land, your hold the rights “from the centre of the earth to the heavens” Is this true?

If so, do countries need international approvals to have satellites orbiting above other countries land?


Over the United States controlled airspace extends to 60,000 feet. I would assume other countries are similar.

The from the center of the earth to the heavens used to be true, but not anymore. Between mining companies gaining mineral rights under your feet, to aircraft flying overhead, your rights to what’s above and below your real estate have definite limits. You do have some rights to space immediatley above your property, but with anything over 200 feet tall the FAA usually gets involved

And no, you don’t need permission to sling a satellite into earth orbit.

That may be, but if you want to send a rocket to the moon, you apparently need the permission of the US State Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, even though you intend to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Unca Cece’s column “Can I declare a ‘no-flight zone’ over my house?” addresses this somewhat. Re: the earth to the heavens schtick:

Unfortunately, he doesn’t give a maximum height for controlled airspace, except the one about equatorial nations trying to establish a 22,300 mile ceiling to include satellites in geostationary orbit. He does give a minimum height of 500 to 1,000 feet that still belongs to the landowner, varying by locality.

:smack: sorry, I boo-boo’ed.

You don’t need permission to sling your satellite through space over various countries. You DO need permission from the US government to launch it from the USA. There are legal mechanisms to do so, but I hope you enjoy paperwork.

My 60,000 foot figure comes from the 2002 AIM (that’s Aeronautical Information Manual) which defines “Class A” airspace as extending to Flight Level 600. In plain English, that’s 60,000 feet. Class A is the airspace overlying all the other classifications of airspace (B, C, D, E and G - F is not used in the US at present, though I believe you can find it in Canada).

Just for the heck of it, I’ll point out that by FL600 you might as well be in outer space as far as breathable atmosphere is concerned.

Unknown to most, UNcontrolled airspace exists underneath controlled airspace (It’s called “Class G”). The size of this varies. In most urban areas it’s from the ground to either 700 or 1200 feet above ground level outside the immediate area of an airport (Hey, do you want to hear the boring technical jargon? I can do that… don’t make me do that…) There are, however, remote areas of the country where controlled airspace doesn’t start until you’re at 18,000 feet. Most people don’t know about this for the simple reason there are very few people out there.