Military Operating Area


  • Military Operating Areas (MOAs) are blocks of airspace that are established to separate certain military training activities from Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) traffic
  • Activities contained within MOAs include:
  • These areas are non-regulatory and do not require pilot participation
Pine Hill Depiction
Figure 1: Pine Hill Military Depiction

Military Operating Areas:

  • MOAs (and warning areas for that matter) are critical to train military pilots while maintaining the readiness of the force
  • These areas are not always active and their status, as well as type of activity may change frequently which produce hazards such as speeds in excess of 250 knots below 10,000'
    • For these reasons, it is important to understand how these blocks of airspace affect your flight
  • Visual Flight Rules (VFR) traffic:
    • The pilot should contact the controlling agency when operating within 100 NM of the MOA to be crossed as the status (active/inactive) may change frequently
    • While flight through an active MOA is not prohibited to civilian traffic, it is a very bad idea due to dynamic operations in this airspace
    • Despite the safety hazard, it will cause military activity to "knock-it-off" resulting in wasted time and gas which ends up costing tax payers
  • Instrument Flight Rules traffic:
    • Whenever an MOA is being used, non-participating IFR traffic may be cleared through an MOA if IFR separation can be provided by Air Traffic Control (ATC)
    • Otherwise, ATC will reroute or restrict non-participating IFR traffic
  • No regulation exists prohibiting civilian, VFR traffic, from transiting an active MOA
Sectional Chart Military Operating Area
Figure 2: Pine Hill Military Operating Area

Airspace Depiction:

  • Depicted on sectionals, VFR Terminal Areas, and Low Altitude Charts in magenta
  • All operating areas have a name and sometimes a number when MOAs are split into segments [Figure 1]
  • MOAs are shown in their entirety (within the limits of the chart), even when they overlap, adjoin, or when an area is designated within another area
  • The areas are identified by type and identifying name/number, and are positioned either within or immediately adjacent to the area
  • A tabulation of MOAs (listed alphabetically) appear on the chart in magenta
  • All are supplemented with altitude, time of use and the controlling agency/contact facility, and its frequency when available
    • The controlling agency will be shown when the contact facility and frequency data is unavailable
Pine Hill Tabulation
Figure 3: Pine Hill Military Operating Area


  • To enter a MOA, you should contact the controlling agency for traffic advisories
    • Agencies and frequencies are found on the border of the VFR sectional chart which depicts the MOA
  • Activation:
    • Pilot: "Atlanta Center, [Callsign], [Level/Climbing] to [Altitude], request"
    • ATC: "[Callsign], Atlanta Center, say request"
    • Pilot: "[Callsign], request the Pine Hills MOA, block [Altitude] for the next [Time]"
    • ATC: "[Callsign], Cleared into the Pine Hills MOA block [Altitude], [Altimeter], monitor discrete [Frequency], RTB this frequency, EFC [Zulu] cleared to switch to discrete"
  • General Broadcast:
    • Pilot: "99 Pine Hills, [Callsign] for [Intentions]"


  • Military Operating Areas are scattered throughout the country and are most densely concentrated around military bases
  • It is not required to gain permission to enter a Military Operating Area but it is crucial you request advisories for yours and others safety
  • Visual Scanning and Collision Avoidance (see and avoid) still remains a responsibility of all parties when operating in Visual Meteorological Conditions as per FAR 91.113(b)
  • Military pilots are exempt from 14 CFR 91.303(c) and (d) which prohibits aerobatics within Class Delta or Echo surface areas and federal airways