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 5. Regional/Service Area Office Actions

21-5-1. GENERAL

a. SUA proposals should be processed as expeditiously as possible, consistent with thorough analysis, public notice procedures, and environmental requirements. This is necessary to ensure that decisions are based on the most current data, and that limited funding and personnel resources are used efficiently. The proponent should receive a timely determination on the disposition of the proposal in order to conduct its mission or consider alternatives. Lengthy delays in processing the proposal may result in the need for a supplemental public comment period, and/or the revalidation of the aeronautical and environmental studies.

b. The service area office will notify the appropriate regional military representative, in writing, if a significant processing delay is anticipated or major problems arise.

21-5-2. REGIONAL/SERVICE AREA OFFICE PROCESSING REQUIREMENTS

This paragraph describes the basic SUA processing items accomplished at the regional/service area office level. The service area office may supplement or modify the sequence of these items as needed.

a. Assign a rulemaking docket number or nonrulemaking study number, as appropriate (see Chapter 2 of this order).

NOTE-
When amending any part of the legal description of an existing SUA area, a docket number, or study number must be assigned. This includes minor changes, editorial corrections, and the reduction or revocation of the airspace.

b.  Review the proposal package for content and compliance with the requirements of this order.

c. Task concerned ATC facilities to conduct an aeronautical study of the proposal (see Section 6 of this chapter).

d. Determine if other airspace or airport actions are pending or on file at the region/service area office for possible conflict with the proposal.

e. Coordinate with other FAA offices (e.g., Airports, FPT, Flight Standards, etc.) as required for assistance in identifying impacts on airport development plans, aviation safety, and IFR/VFR operations.

f. Coordinate the proposal with adjacent regional office service area office, if necessary.

g. Circularize nonrulemaking proposals as specified in Chapter 2, and Chapter 21, Section 1 of this order. Send an information copy of each circular to Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group.

h. For restricted area or prohibited area proposals, submit the proposal package to Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group to initiate rulemaking action.

i. Determine if an informal airspace meeting will be held.

NOTE-
If informal airspace meetings or environmental public meetings are planned, and the schedule is known, include meeting information in the nonrulemaking circular, or in the rulemaking package for publication in the NPRM. Also, see meeting notification requirements in Chapter 2 of this order.

j. Review all public comments received. Evaluate comments with respect to the proposal's effect on the safe and efficient utilization of airspace. All substantive aeronautical comments must be addressed in the final rule or nonrulemaking case file. Where required, consider the proposal's impact on the safety of persons and property on the ground. Provide copies of pertinent public comments to the concerned regional military representative.

k. Review aeronautical study results.

l. Evaluate aeronautical impacts identified through public comments, aeronautical study, or other sources. Coordinate with the proponent regarding ways to lessen aeronautical impact and/or resolve problem areas. As additional impacts are identified during the processing of the proposal, provide the information to the proponent.

m. Review environmental or land-use comments addressed to the FAA, then forward them to the proponent for consideration in appropriate environmental documents.

n. If, after the publication of an NPRM or a non-rulemaking circular, the proposal is modified by the proponent or to mitigate aeronautical or environmental impacts, determine if the changes are significant enough to necessitate a supplemental public comment period.

o. Coordinate with the service area office Environmental Specialist for review of the proponent's environmental documents (see paragraph 21-5-4, below).

p. Determine whether to recommend FAA headquarters approval of the proposal, or disapprove the proposal at the regional/service area office level (see paragraphs 21-5-6 and 21-5-7, below).

21-5-3. AERONAUTICAL IMPACT CONSIDERATION

There is no set formula for balancing the various competing user requirements for the use of airspace. If approval of the SUA proposal would result in an adverse aeronautical impact, every effort must be made to seek equitable solutions to resolve or minimize the adverse aeronautical effects. If the aeronautical impact cannot be mitigated, the service area office must carefully weigh the extent of that impact against the need and justification provided by the SUA proponent. The region's/service area office's recommendation should include a discussion of how any aeronautical issues were resolved.

21-5-4. ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENT REVIEW

In coordination with the service area office Environmental Specialist, the Airspace Specialist will review the proponent's draft and final environmental documents to ensure that the environmental analysis matches the proposed airspace parameters (e.g., time of use, lateral and vertical dimensions, types and numbers of operations, supersonic flight). Any environmental issues identified in this review must be forwarded to the proponent for consideration.

21-5-5. REGIONAL/SERVICE AREA OFFICE DETERMINATION

After considering all pertinent information, the service area office determines whether to recommend approval of the proposal to FAA Headquarters, negotiate changes with the proponent, or disapprove the proposal. If the regional/service area office aeronautical processing is completed before the proponent's environmental documents have been finalized, the proposal may be forwarded to FAA Headquarters for review of the aeronautical portion. In all cases, a final determination on the proposal by FAA Headquarters must be deferred until applicable NEPA requirements are completed.

NOTE-
Supplemental public notice with an additional comment period may be necessary if significant changes are made to the proposal after it was advertised for public comment. If a FAA determination has not been issued within 36 months of the last aeronautical public comment period or, if it is known that the aeronautical conditions in the area have changed significantly from what existed at the time of that last comment period, a supplemental comment period is required. Supplemental comment periods may be reduced to 30 days in length.

21-5-6. DISAPPROVAL OF PROPOSALS

a. The service area office may disapprove any SUA proposal, however, such disapproval should be based on valid aeronautical reasons. The service area office must notify the proponent, in writing, stating the reasons for disapproval. Reasonable efforts should be made to resolve problem areas before rejecting the proposal. Provide an information copy of the disapproval correspondence to Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group.

b. If the proponent resubmits the proposal after resolving problem areas, the service area office should determine required actions and resume processing the proposal.

c. If the proponent resubmits the proposal without resolving problem areas, the service area office must forward the case along with the region's recommendation to Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group for further action.

21-5-7. SUBMISSION OF APPROVAL RECOMMENDATIONS TO FAA HEADQUARTERS

Submit SUA proposals recommended for approval to Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group for final determination and processing. Include the following (as applicable):

a. A service area office transmittal memorandum containing a brief overview of the proposal and the region's/service area office's recommendation for headquarters action. Summarize any amendments made to the original proposal in response to public comments, or negotiations to mitigate impacts, etc. If coordination with the designated controlling agency indicates that plans exist to provide nonparticipating pilots with traffic advisories, or real-time area activity status information, provide a VHF frequency and facility identification to be depicted on aeronautical charts.

b. A separate attachment that contains the recommended legal description of the area (e.g., boundaries, altitudes, times, controlling agency, and using agency). Use the format shown in TBL 21-2-1.

NOTE-
If only part of the description of an existing area is being amended, the attachment should show just the changed information rather than the full legal description.

c. A sectional aeronautical chart depicting the final boundaries of the proposed area, including any subdivisions.

d. A copy of the proponent's airspace request correspondence and proposal package, to include all applicable items required by Section 3 of this chapter.

e. A copy of aeronautical comments received in response to the NPRM or non-rulemaking circular, along with a discussion of how each substantive comment was addressed or resolved.

f. A synopsis of FAA environmental issues or concerns which were forwarded to the proponent, if applicable. Identify any modifications made to the proposal to mitigate environmental effects.

g. A copy of the aeronautical study.

h. A summary of meeting discussions and copies of written comments submitted at the meeting, if an informal airspace meeting was held.

i. Copies of pertinent correspondence from other FAA offices (e.g., Flight Standards, Airports, adjacent service area office, affected ATC facilities, etc.).

j. Environmental documents (if not submitted separately).

k. Any other information that should be considered by FAA Headquarters in making a final determination on the proposal.

21-5-8. HANDLING OF PROPOSALS TO REDUCE OR REVOKE SUA

a. Normally, proposals which lessen the burden on the public by reducing the size, or times of use, or by revoking SUA, do not require advance public notice and comment. An abbreviated proposal package may be submitted in accordance with paragraph 21-3-4.

b. An environmental analysis of the SUA reduction or revocation action is not normally required. However, if FAA plans to implement new routes or air traffic procedures in the affected airspace, that route or procedural action may require its own environmental analysis.

21-5-9. FAA INITIATED SUA PROPOSALS

a. Proposals to establish or modify SUA are normally initiated by a DOD proponent. However, since it is responsible for ensuring the safe and efficient use of the navigable airspace, the FAA may initiate SUA proposals when such actions are necessary to resolve a safety issue, enhance joint use, or enhance the capability of the SUA to accommodate the using agency's mission. Prior to initiating a SUA proposal, the service area office must exhaust every avenue to resolve the issues by other means. When modification of an existing SUA area is contemplated, full consideration must be given to providing the affected user with an equivalent capability to perform its mission.

b. When initiating a proposal, the service area office will prepare the SUA proposal package and required documentation. The proposal will be coordinated with the affected military units through the appropriate regional military representative. If an environmental analysis is required, the service area office will determine responsibility assignment.

c. In developing a proposal, the service area office must, through the regional military representative, consult with the concerned DOD department to identify and document the impact of the proposed change on affected military units' mission(s).

d. If any using agency objects and agreement cannot be reached, but there is strong justification to proceed with the proposal, the service area office must send the proposal package to Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group for further action. Include with the proposal package, the reason for the proposal, a copy of the objections, a summary of efforts to resolve the objections, and the region's recommendations. Do not initiate public notice procedures for such proposals, without Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group concurrence.

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