Home Aviation General What is MOA in Aviation? (Military Operations Area)

What is MOA in Aviation? (Military Operations Area)

Aviation has a lot of technical terms that can be confusing. One such term is the Military Operations Area or MOA. This term can be intimidating to those unfamiliar with aviation lingo. In this guide, we will explain Military Operations Area and its significance in aviation.

What is Military Operations Area?

A Military Operations Area (MOA) is designated airspace where military flight training activities are conducted. It is a type of Special Use Airspace (SUA) to separate and protect military flight operations from other air traffic. MOAs are not associated with a specific military base; they are designated in areas where military operations may be conducted.

The purpose of MOAs is to provide a safe environment for military flight training that may involve high-speed, low-flying aircraft. These areas are designed to accommodate the unique requirements of military aircraft while ensuring the safety of civil aviation. MOAs are not restricted airspace, but pilots are advised to use caution when flying through MOAs and to be aware of the active military training activities taking place within the designated airspace.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designates MOAs and provides participating pilots with information on MOA location, operating hours, and weather conditions. MOAs can range in size from a few square miles to hundreds of square miles.

Types of MOAs

There are two types of MOAs:

  • MOAs with no defined vertical limit (MOA)
  • MOAs with a defined vertical limit (MTR)

MOAs with no defined vertical limit, or MOAs, are designated airspace wherein military flight activities are conducted below 18,000 feet MSL. MOAs with defined vertical limits, or Military Training Routes (MTRs), are designated airspace established for the conduct of low altitude, high-speed military training exercises. MTRs are routes used by military aircraft at low altitudes between military facilities, designated for air navigation, and normally established below 10,000 feet MSL for conducting low-altitude, high-speed navigation and tactical training.

MTRs are not closed or restricted airspace, and it’s possible for other aircraft to fly within them. However, pilots should be aware of those training activities taking place and be prepared to avoid military aircraft if necessary.

Military Operations Area and Civilian Aviation

Civilian pilots should be aware of the presence of MOAs when planning flight routes. In general, MOAs are not designed to restrict civilian airspace, but pilots are advised to avoid these areas whenever possible. Flying within an active MOA can be challenging and potentially dangerous, especially for pilots who may be unfamiliar with military flight patterns and speeds.

While civilian pilots are not restricted from flying in MOAs, it is a good idea to contact the local Flight Service Station (FSS) or Air Traffic Control (ATC) facility for advice on avoiding active military training activities in the area. Pilots can also check NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen) for updated information about MOA operations.

It’s worth noting that some MOAs can be inactive for extended periods. Just because an MOA is designated does not necessarily mean that there is always military activity in the area. Pilots are advised to check with local FSS or ATC facilities for updated information on MOA activities, including hours of operation and weather conditions.


Understanding Military Operations Area is essential for both civilian and military pilots. MOAs are designed to provide safe training environments for military flight operations while ensuring the safety of civil aviation. Civilian pilots should be aware of active MOAs when planning flight routes and should avoid these areas whenever possible or contact local FSS or ATC facilities for updated information about MOA activities.


  1. https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/pilot_handbook/media/PHAK%20-%20Chapter%2019.pdf
  2. https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Military_Operations_Area_(MOA)
  3. https://www.globalair.com/airport/special-use-airspace.aspx

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