While I was looking at aviation sectional charts on SkyVector, as I sometimes do, I noticed something I had not seen before. This doesn’t happen often, and as a responsible pilot I felt like I had an obligation to educate myself. The gray circle over Scranton, Pennsylvania is a TRSA, or Terminal Radar Service Area. There aren’t many of these left in the United States. They were supposed to all be converted into either Class D or Class C airspace, but because of technical and other requirements, that effort was suspended. There are no regulations or rules associated with these areas, and use of them is voluntary. Still, good to know.
3-5-6. Terminal Radar Service Area (TRSA)
a. Background. TRSAs were originally established as part of the Terminal Radar Program at selected airports. TRSAs were never controlled airspace from a regulatory standpoint because the establishment of TRSAs was never subject to the rulemaking process; consequently, TRSAs are not contained in 14 CFR Part 71 nor are there any TRSA operating rules in 14 CFR Part 91. Part of the Airport Radar Service Area (ARSA) program was to eventually replace all TRSAs. However, the ARSA requirements became relatively stringent and it was subsequently decided that TRSAs would have to meet ARSA criteria before they would be converted. TRSAs do not fit into any of the U.S. airspace classes; therefore, they will continue to be non-Part 71 airspace areas where participating pilots can receive additional radar services which have been redefined as TRSA Service.
b. TRSAs. The primary airport(s) within the TRSA become(s) Class D airspace. The remaining portion of the TRSA overlies other controlled airspace which is normally Class E airspace beginning at 700 or 1,200 feet and established to transition to/from the en route/terminal environment.
c. Participation. Pilots operating under VFR are encouraged to contact the radar approach control and avail themselves of the TRSA Services. However, participation is voluntary on the part of the pilot. See Chapter 4, Air Traffic Control, for details and procedures.
d. Charts. TRSAs are depicted on VFR sectional and terminal area charts with a solid black line and altitudes for each segment. The Class D portion is charted with a blue segmented line.