U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION

ORDER
JO 7400.2J
Effective Date:
February 9, 2012
 
     

Subject:  Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters
Includes:  Change 3 effective 8/22/13, Change 2 effective 3/7/13, Change 1 effective 7/26/12 and  Errata effective 2/9/12.

 

Part 5. Special Use Airspace

Chapter 21. General

Section 1. Policy

21-1-1. PURPOSE

In addition to the policy guidelines and procedures detailed in Part 1. of this order, this part prescribes specific policies and procedures for handling special use airspace (SUA) cases.

21-1-2. SCOPE

The primary purpose of the SUA program is to establish/designate airspace in the interest of National Defense, security and/or welfare. Charted SUA identifies to other airspace users where these activities occur.

21-1-3. DEFINITION AND TYPES

a. SUA is airspace of defined dimensions wherein activities must be confined because of their nature, or wherein limitations may be imposed upon aircraft operations that are not a part of those activities.

b. The types of SUA areas are Prohibited Areas, Restricted Areas, Military Operations Areas (MOA), Warning Areas, Alert Areas, Controlled Firing Areas (CFA), and National Security Areas (NSA).

21-1-4. CATEGORIES

There are two categories of SUA: regulatory (rulemaking) and other than regulatory (nonrulemaking). Prohibited Areas and Restricted Areas are rulemaking actions that are implemented by a formal amendment to part 73. MOAs, Warning Areas, Alert Areas, CFAs, and NSAs are nonrulemaking actions.

21-1-5.  SUA APPROVAL AUTHORITY

FAA Headquarters is the final approval authority for all permanent and temporary SUA, except CFA's. CFA approval authority is delegated to the service area office. The service area office must forward those proposals recommended for approval (except CFA) to FAA Headquarters for a final determination.

NOTE-
Final approval of Warning Areas is shared with other agencies per Executive Order 10854. Warning Area proposals, except controlling or using agency changes, must be coordinated with the Department of State and the Department of Defense for concurrence. Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group is responsible for accomplishing this coordination.

21-1-6. MINIMUM NUMBERS AND VOLUME

The dimensions and times of use of SUA must be the minimum required for containing the proposed activities, including safety zones required by military authority. When it is determined that a specified SUA area is no longer required, the using agency, or the appropriate military authority, must inform the service area office that action may be initiated to return the airspace to the NAS.

21-1-7. OPTIMUM USE OF AIRSPACE

a. To ensure the optimum use of airspace, using agencies must, where mission requirements permit, make their assigned SUA available for the activities of other military units on a shared-use basis.

b. SUA should be located to impose minimum impact on nonparticipating aircraft and ATC operations. This should be balanced with consideration of the proponent's requirements. To the extent practical, SUA should be located to avoid airways/jet routes, major terminal areas, and known high volume VFR routes.

c. Consider subdividing large SUA areas, where feasible, in order to facilitate the real-time release of the airspace when activation of the entire area is not required by the user.

NOTE-
Policies concerning airspace utilization for military operations are contained in FAAO JO 7610.4, Chapter 9, Military Operations Requirements.

21-1-8. JOINT-USE POLICY

a. Under the “joint-use" concept, SUA is released to the controlling agency and becomes available for access by nonparticipating aircraft during periods when the airspace is not needed by the using agency for its designated purpose.

b. Restricted areas, warning areas, and MOAs must be designated as “joint-use" unless it is demonstrated that this would result in derogation to the using agency's mission. For certain SUA areas, joint use may be impractical because of the area's small size, geographic location, or high level of use in such areas. In these cases, the airspace proposal package must include specific justification of why joint-use is not appropriate.

c. Joint-use does not apply to prohibited areas. Alert areas and CFAs are essentially joint-use because nonparticipating aircraft may transit these areas without limitation.

d. Joint-use procedures must be specified in a joint use “Letter of Procedure" or “Letter of Agreement" between the using agency and the controlling agency. These letters should include provisions for the real-time activation/deactivation of the airspace, where such capabilities exist. They should also provide for the timely notification to the controlling agency when the scheduled activity has changed, been canceled, or was completed for the day.

e. Using agencies must ensure that joint-use SUA is returned to the controlling agency during periods when the airspace is not needed nor being used for its designated purpose.

21-1-9. ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS

a. SUA actions, except as listed in paragraph b, below, are subject to environmental impact analysis in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Guidance for the environmental analysis of SUA proposals is contained in FAAO 1050.1, Policies for Considering Environmental Impacts, other relevant FAA directives; the FAA/DOD Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Special Use Airspace Environmental Assessment; and other applicable regulations and statutes.

b. Prohibited area and alert area designations are actions that are neither permissive nor enabling. As such, environmental assessments or statements are not required when designating these areas (see FAAO 1050.1, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures).

21-1-10. CONTROLLING AGENCY

The controlling agency is the FAA ATC facility that exercises control of the airspace when an SUA area is not activated. A military ATC facility may be assigned as the controlling agency, subject to the concurrence of the service area office and the concerned ARTCC. A controlling agency must be designated for each joint-use SUA area.

21-1-11. USING AGENCY

a. The using agency is the military unit or other organization whose activity established the requirement for the SUA. The using agency is responsible for ensuring that:

1. The airspace is used only for its designated purpose.

2. Proper scheduling procedures are established and utilized.

3. The controlling agency is kept informed of changes in scheduled activity, to include the completion of activities for the day.

4. A point of contact is made available to enable the controlling agency to verify schedules, and coordinate access for emergencies, weather diversions, etc.

REFERENCE-
FAAO JO 7610.4, Chapter 9, Military Operations Requirements.

b. Restricted area and MOA using agencies are responsible for submitting Restricted Area/MOA Annual Utilization Reports in accordance with Section 7 of this chapter.

c. An ATC facility may be designated as the using agency for joint-use areas when that facility has been granted priority for use of the airspace in a joint-use letter of procedure or letter of agreement.

21-1-12. WAIVERS

The establishment of SUA does not, in itself, waive compliance with any part of the Code of Federal Regulations. DOD has been granted a number of waivers, exemptions, and authorizations to accomplish specific missions. Information about current waivers, exemptions, and authorizations granted for military operations may be obtained from FAA Headquarters, Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group, or the Office of Rulemaking (ARM).

21-1-13. PUBLIC NOTICE PROCEDURES

Public notice procedures invite the public to comment on the impact of SUA proposals on the safe and efficient use of the navigable airspace. In addition to the public notice procedures described in chapter 2 of this order, SUA proposals are subject to the following:

a. All nonregulatory SUA proposals must be circularized, and an NPRM must be issued for all regulatory SUA proposals, except for those actions that clearly have no impact on aviation and are not controversial. A nonrulemaking circular or NPRM is not normally required for the following types of proposals:

1. Changes to the using or controlling agency.

2. Editorial changes to correct typographical errors.

3. Internal subdivision of an existing area to enhance real-time, joint-use (provided there is no change to the existing external boundaries) times of use, or type/level of activities.

4. Actions that lessen the burden on the flying public by revoking or reducing the size or times of use of SUA.

b. SUA nonrulemaking circulars are prepared and distributed by the service area office. FAA Headquarters prepares SUA NPRMs. Normally, circulars and NPRMs provide a minimum of 45 days for public comment.

c. When comments or coordination show that the proposal may be controversial, or there is a need to obtain additional information relevant to the proposal, an informal airspace meeting may be considered (see Chapter 2 of this order).

21-1-14. SUA NONRULEMAKING CIRCULARS

a. Prepare and distribute SUA nonrulemaking circulars as specified in Chapter 2 of this order and the additional requirements in this paragraph. Ensure wide dissemination to the potentially affected aviation user community. Send one copy of each SUA circular to Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group and to the appropriate regional military representative(s).

b. CONTENT - Circulars should contain sufficient information to assist interested persons in preparing comments on the aeronautical impact of the proposal. SUA circulars should include:

1. A brief narrative that:

(a) Describes the purpose of the proposed airspace, the types of activities to be conducted, and the expected frequency of those activities. If the proposal modifies existing SUA, describe the changes and explain the desired result. For temporary MOA proposals, include a brief summary of the planned exercise or mission scenario.

(b) Discusses measures planned to minimize impact on nonparticipating aircraft, such as airport exclusions, joint-use procedures, limited activation times, etc. If there are known plans to provide real time area status information and/or traffic advisory services for nonparticipating pilots, include this information in the circular.

2. A complete description of the proposed area consisting of boundaries, altitudes, times of use, controlling agency, and using agency.

3. A copy of a sectional aeronautical chart depicting the boundaries of the proposed area.

4. The name and address (provided by the proponent) of the person to whom comments on the environmental and land-use aspects of the proposal may be submitted.

NOTE-
Do not include statements in the circular that certify NEPA compliance or state that environmental studies are complete. The proponent and/or FAA must consider environmental issues raised in response to the circular before a final determination is made on the proposal.

5. The issue date of the circular and the specific date that the comment period ends. Provide at least 45-days for public comment.

NOTE-
When selecting the comment closing date, consider the time needed for the preparation, printing and release of the circular, plus a representative mailing time, in order to afford the public the maximum time to submit comments.

c. SPECIAL DISTRIBUTION - In addition to the distribution requirements in Chapter 2, send copies of SUA nonrulemaking circulars to:

1. State transportation, aviation, and environmental departments (or the state clearing house if requested by the state).

2. Local government authorities, civic organizations, interest groups, or individuals that may not have an aeronautical interest, but are expected to become involved in a specific proposal.

3. Public libraries within the affected area requesting that the circular be displayed for public information.

4. Persons or organizations that have requested to be added to the circularization list.

NOTE-
1. The service area office determines special distribution requirements in accordance with regional/service area office policies and considering the type of proposal, the potential for controversy, and the extent of possible aeronautical impact.

2. If the proposed airspace overlaps regional geographical boundaries or airspace jurisdictions, coordinate as required with adjacent regional/service area offices to ensure distribution of circulars to all appropriate parties.

21-1-15. CHARTING AND PUBLICATION REQUIREMENTS

a. All SUA areas except CFAs, temporary MOAs, and temporary restricted areas, must be depicted on aeronautical charts, and published as required in aeronautical publications.

b. Approved SUA actions normally become effective on the U.S. 56-day, en route chart cycle publication dates (see Part 1. of this order).

EXCEPTION-

Effective dates for temporary restricted areas, temporary MOAs, and CFAs are determined by mission requirements instead of the 56-day en route, charting date cycle.

c. Temporary areas must be described in part 4, Graphic Notices, of the Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) Publication. Normally, publication of the graphic notice will begin two issues prior to the exercise start date and will continue through completion of the exercise. The notice must include the area's legal description, effective dates, and a chart depicting the area boundaries. For large exercises, a brief narrative describing the exercise scenario, activities, numbers and types of aircraft involved, and the availability of in-flight activity status information for nonparticipating pilots should be included.

NOTE-
Submit temporary SUA graphic notice information, along with the airspace proposal package, to Mission Support, Airspace Services, Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group by the cutoff dates specified in the appropriate chapter of this order. All graphics submitted must be of high quality and in camera ready form. Facsimile copies are not suitable. Airspace Regulations & ATC Procedures Group will process and coordinate the notice with Mission Support, Aeronautical Navigation, AT Publications Management Group, for publication in the NOTAM Publication. Do not submit temporary SUA graphic notices directly to Publications.

d. When a SUA action becomes effective before it appears on the affected sectional chart(s), a description and map of the area will be published in part 4 of the NOTAM Publication. This information will be carried in the NOTAM Publication until the change has appeared on the affected sectional chart(s). Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group is responsible for complying with this requirement.

NOTE-
1. Minor editorial corrections to a SUA description or changes to the using or controlling agencies, will not be published in the NOTAM Publication.

2. In addition to the above, SUA designations or amendments that occur after publication of the latest sectional chart(s) will be listed in the “Aeronautical Chart Bulletin" section of the appropriate A/FD. This information will be carried in the A/FD until the change is published on the affected sectional chart(s).

21-1-16. CERTIFICATION OF SUA GEOGRAPHIC POSITIONAL DATA

a. Geographic positional data for all permanent and temporary SUA boundaries (except CFAs) must be certified for accuracy by the AeroNav before publication and charting. Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group must submit proposed positional data to AeroNav for certification. Latitude and longitude positions used in SUA descriptions must be based on the current North American Datum.

b. Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group must forward any corrections or recommended changes made by AeroNav to the service area office. The service area office will forward to AeroNav changes to the regional military representative, or civil proponent, for review. The regional military representative/civil proponent will inform the service area office of its concurrence with AeroNav changes or reason for nonconcurrence. The service area office will advise FAA Headquarters of the proponent's conclusions. A record of this coordination must be included in the airspace case file.

21-1-17. LEAD REGION

a. The regional office that is responsible for the geographical area containing the affected airspace processes the SUA proposal. When a proposal overlaps regional office geographical jurisdictions, the concerned service area office must coordinate to determine which office will serve as the lead region for processing the proposal. Coordination between regions/service area offices is also required when the affected geographical area, and the ATC facility to be designated as controlling agency, are under the jurisdiction of different regional/service area offices.

b. Concerned regions must ensure that:

1. All affected ATC facilities review the proposal and provide input to the aeronautical study, as required.

2. For nonregulatory proposals, distribution of nonrulemaking circulars includes interested parties in each regional jurisdiction, as necessary.

c. The airspace package submitted to headquarters must include documentation of regional/service area office coordination, affected ATC facility comments and copies of public comments received.

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