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.

 

Section 2. SUA Legal Descriptions

21-2-1. GENERAL

a. The legal description is the official airspace definition used for NAS database and charting purposes. This section provides guidelines and formats for preparing SUA legal descriptions. See TBL 21-2-1 for examples of regulatory and nonregulatory SUA legal descriptions.

b. All bearings and radials used in SUA legal descriptions are true from point of origin.

c. Mileage used in the description must be expressed in nautical miles (NM).

d. Descriptions of approved SUA, except temporary areas and CFA's, are compiled and published once a year in FAAO JO 7400.8, Special Use Airspace. Updates to the order are not published between editions and the listings are considered current only as of the date specified in the order. For this reason FAAO JO 7400.8 should be used as a general reference only and should not be relied upon as a sole source when accurate positional data are needed (e.g., video maps, letters of agreement, etc). For up-to-date descriptions of SUA areas, contact Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group or AIM.

21-2-2. LATERAL BOUNDARIES

a. SUA lateral boundaries are normally defined by geographic (latitude/longitude) coordinates. All coordinates must be expressed in a “degrees, minutes, and seconds" format. Do not round off, or convert seconds to tenths of minutes (enter 00' and 00" to specifically reflect the “zero" minutes and “zero" seconds places respectively). See TBL 21-2-1 for examples.

b. Other methods may be used to define boundaries if necessary to simplify the description, such as defining the boundaries by reference to a NAVAID radial/DME. When a NAVAID is used as a reference point, include its geographic location in degrees, minutes, and seconds.

c. To aid pilots in area identification, boundaries may be aligned along a prominent terrain feature such as rivers, highways, railroad tracks, etc., provided the feature is clearly discernable from the air.

d. Except for temporary SUA areas, boundaries must not be described as “along the boundary" of another designated airspace area.

e. Where feasible, consider subdividing large SUA areas to enhance joint use of the airspace.

21-2-3. VERTICAL LIMITS

a. For areas that contain aircraft operations exclusively, altitudes at or above 18,000 feet MSL must be expressed as flight levels (FL).

b. For areas that contain other than aircraft operations, altitudes above 18,000 feet MSL must be expressed in feet above MSL.

c. Where terrain considerations or other factors would make the use of an MSL altitude impractical, the floor of the area may be described in feet above ground level (AGL).

d. In describing SUA ceilings, unless otherwise specified in the description, the word “to" an altitude or flight level means “to and including" that altitude or flight level. If the upper vertical limit does not include the altitude or flight level, the ceiling must be stated as “to but not including" the altitude or flight level.

e. Do not designate variable altitudes to describe the floor or the ceiling of an SUA area. When there is a requirement for the altitude of the floor or ceiling to change based on time of use, or geographic position within the SUA area, etc.; the differing sections must be established as separate subdivisions.

EXCEPTION-
The floor of an area may be described using a combination of MSL and AGL altitudes if necessary due to terrain or operational considerations. For example, “5,000 feet MSL or 3,000 feet AGL, whichever is higher."

f. In limited situations, and provided a specific operational requirement exists, the same altitude may be used to describe both the ceiling of one SUA subdivision and the floor of an overlying subdivision. In this case, the same ATC facility must be designated as the controlling agency for both subdivisions.

g. Where feasible consider stratification of SUA areas to enhance joint-use of the airspace.

21-2-4. TIMES OF USE

a. The times of use indicate the period during which the using agency is authorized to schedule and use a SUA area. These times should reflect when normal operations are expected to occur. In determining the times of use, the proponent should select the minimum period needed to meet the using agency's requirements. The goal is to capture the majority of the day-to-day activities. When the using agency has a requirement for intermittent, less frequent use of the airspace (outside the specific published time-period), a provision to activate the airspace by NOTAM may be stated in the SUA legal description.

NOTE-
The times of use should be based on the intended typical use of the area. These times are depicted on aeronautical charts to assist other airspace users in determining the most likely periods of area activation.

b. Times of use are stated using the options, or combination of options, shown below:

1. Specific hours/days. Local time using the 24-hour clock, and days of the week. If the time of use will change significantly on a seasonal basis, or mission requirements call for specific time blocks, variable times of use may be designated.

EXAMPLE-
1. “0700 - 2200, Monday - Friday."

2. “Sep - Apr, 0800 - 1700, Monday - Friday; an May - Aug, 0600 - 2400 Monday - Friday."

3. “0800 - 0930 and 1300 - 1600, Monday - Friday."

4. “0700 - 1600, daily."

NOTE-
1. As used in SUA legal descriptions, the term “daily" means 7 days per week.

2. If the SUA area overlaps more than one local time zone, state the predominant time zone in the description, for example: “0700 - 1800 central time; Monday - Friday."

2. Continuous. Use only when justification exists for utilization 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

EXCEPTION-
“Continuous" may also be used when the area will be utilized 24 hours per day over a specific period, such as “Continuous, Monday - Friday;" or “Continuous, April - June."

3. NOTAM activation. Use “By NOTAM" or “Other Times by NOTAM" to indicate when a NOTAM must be issued in order to activate the area. NOTAM options are:

(a) “Other times by NOTAM." Used along with specific times to provide for activation of the area outside the specified times of use that were established according to b.1., above.

EXAMPLE-
“0700-1900 local time, Monday - Friday - other times by NOTAM."

(b) “By NOTAM," along with specific times from b.1., above: Used when issuance of a NOTAM is required prior to activating the area during the specified hours.

EXAMPLE-
1. “By NOTAM 0700-1800 local time, Monday - Friday."

2. “0700-1800 local time, Monday - Friday, by NOTAM 4 hours in advance."

(c) “By NOTAM" without specific times: Used when anticipated usage times cannot be specifically determined, or when the nature of the user's mission requires infrequent or erratic use.

(d) The NOTAM provision must apply to the entire area and not only a portion thereof. If times of use will vary from one portion of the area to another, the dissimilar portions should be subdivided or redesignated as separate areas.

(e) NOTAMs should be issued as far in advance as feasible to ensure widest dissemination of the information to airspace users. Normally, the minimum advance notice should be at least 4 hours prior to the activation time.

NOTE-
Under no circumstances may SUA be activated by a NOTAM unless the words “By NOTAM" or “other times by NOTAM" are stated in the area's legal description.

4. Sunrise to sunset. This option should be reserved for cases where seasonal sunrise/sunset time variations make publication of specific clock times impractical.

5. Intermittent. Must include an associated time-period or “by NOTAM" provision. In any case, intermittent must not be used for restricted areas without a “by NOTAM" provision.

EXAMPLE-
1. “Intermittent, 0700 - 2200, Monday - Friday."

2. “Intermittent by NOTAM at least 4 hours in advance."

21-2-5. CONTROLLING AGENCY

The ATC facility designated as the controlling agency (see paragraph 21-1-10).

 

NOTE-
A controlling agency is not designated for prohibited areas, alert areas, or controlled firing areas.

21-2-6. USING AGENCY

The agency, organization, or military command designated as the using agency (see paragraph 21-1-11).

21-2-7. SUA LEGAL DESCRIPTION AMENDMENTS

All changes to a published SUA legal description must be made through the appropriate regulatory or non-regulatory procedures described in this order. This includes minor changes, editorial corrections, internal subdivisions of an existing area, changes of the controlling or using agency, or reducing the area's dimensions or times of use.

TBL 21-2-1
EXAMPLES OF SPECIAL USE AIRSPACE LEGAL DESCRIPTIONS

 

REGULATORY SUA DESCRIPTION:

R-2305 Gila Bend, AZ

Boundaries - Beginning at lat. 32°50'25"N., long. 112°49'03"W.;
to lat. 32°50'52"N., long. 112°42'56"W.;
to lat. 32°49'00"N., long. 112°39'03"W.;
to lat. 32°29'00"N., long. 112°43'03"W.;
to lat. 32°29'00"N., long. 112°53'33"W.;
to the point of beginning.
Designated altitudes Surface to FL 240.
Time of designation 0700-2300 local time daily, other times by NOTAM.
Controlling agency FAA, Albuquerque ARTCC.
Using agency U.S. Air Force, 58th Fighter Wing, Luke AFB, AZ.

NONREGULATORY SUA DESCRIPTION:

Taiban MOA, NM

Boundaries - Beginning at lat. 34°34'36"N., long. 104°07'00"W.;
to lat. 34°33'00"N., long. 103°55'02"W.;
to lat. 34°10'00"N., long. 103°55'02"W.;
to lat. 34°10'00"N., long. 104°07'00"W.;
to the point of beginning.
Altitudes 500 feet AGL to but not including FL 180.
Times of use 0800-2400 Monday-Friday; other times by NOTAM.
Controlling agency FAA, Albuquerque ARTCC.
Using agency U.S. Air Force, Commander, 27th Fighter Wing,
Cannon AFB, NM.

COORDINATE FORMAT - Do not round off latitude and longitude coordinates. Always use the full format consisting of degrees, minutes, and seconds, as follows:

Correct Incorrect

40°06'00"N. 40°06'N.
104°35'30"W. 104°35.5'W.
39°00'00"N. 39°N.

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