U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION

ORDER
JO 7400.2K
Effective Date:
April 3, 2014
 
     

Subject:  Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters
This Basic includes Change 1 effective 7/24/14.

 

Section 3. Launch and Reentry Vehicle Operations

31-3-1. RESPONSIBILITIES

a. Operator. Prior to conducting a launch or reentry, the operator must obtain a license or permit from the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). With regard to airspace management, the 14 CFR 400 regulations for both a license and a permit require an applicant to engage AST in the pre-application consultation and to complete a letter of agreement (LOA) with the ATC facility having jurisdiction of the airspace where the launch or reentry will take place.

b. Air Traffic. Air traffic is responsible for working with the launch or reentry vehicle operator to ensure that the LOA contains the appropriate provisions, and is coordinated with the appropriate FAA offices to ensure the safety of the NAS. When a proposed launch or reentry overlaps the jurisdictions of multiple air traffic facilities, those facilities must coordinate to determine which facility will serve as the lead facility for developing the LOA. ATC facilities are encouraged to consult with AST in the development of the LOA and share drafts of the LOA as necessary.

c. AST. AST is responsible for evaluating license applications and issuing licenses to operators of commercial launch and reentry vehicles. AST also evaluates applications for experimental permits and issues experimental permits to the operators of commercial reusable suborbital launch vehicles. AST facilitates the development of the LOA, and later evaluates its content against 14 CFR 400 requirements. AST personnel are also responsible for being present at some launches or reentries to monitor compliance with the license or permit and regulations.

d. Federal range. The process for launches or reentries conducted at Federal ranges is similar to the process at non-Federal launch and reentry sites. Additional opportunities exist in the collaboration between the Federal range and the operator for ATO and AST to obtain necessary information to support the launch and reentry process. Further, the range generally conducts some activities necessary for the operation on behalf of the operator, including safety analyses. Federal ranges also typically have existing letters of agreements with ATC facilities.

31-3-2. LOA CONTENT

The LOA describes the terms and conditions required for safe launch or reentry operations in the NAS, including procedures for notification and the issuance of NOTAMs. If an LOA already exists between the operator of the launch or reentry site to be used and the air traffic facility having jurisdiction over the airspace, that LOA may be modified, if necessary, and used to meet this requirement. This includes launch or reentry operations that will be conducted from a Federal range.

Contents of the LOA may vary depending on the launch or reentry site, vehicle operating characteristics, and the type, number ,and frequency of proposed operations. The LOA must include the following:

a. Names of the affected air traffic facilities and launch or reentry operator.

b. Brief description of the launch or reentry vehicle, operating characteristics, and anticipated frequency of proposed operations.

c. ATC facility and operator contact information, including required coordination for each launch or reentry.

d. Airspace/altitudes where the launch or reentry operation will take place.

e. Procedures for the content and issuance of NOTAMs.

f. Subject to the technical, workload, and other constraints of the ATC facility and the level of airspace management necessary to protect public health and safety, the LOA may also include the following provisions for communication and the transfer of data:

1. If communications between the operator and ATC facility are not established prior to flight, the operator must delay or cancel scheduled flights.

2. Verification by the operator that the airspace within the confines of the hazard area is clear of all non-participating aircraft immediately prior to the operation.

3. Verification by the ATC facility that no non-participating aircraft are observed within the airspace corresponding to the confines of the hazard area immediately prior to launch.

4. Immediate notification to the ATC facility by the operator of flight cancellation.

5. Immediate notification to the ATC facility of an off-nominal event (that is, mishap, accident, etc.), including the specification of necessary data, to include situational vehicle information (for example, altitude of failure, position and heading, etc., if known) and the expected time at which the airspace will be clear of any falling debris.

6. Immediate notification to the operator by the ATC facility if conditions that would make the operation unsafe are observed.

7. Any other information or data needed by the FAA to ensure public safety and efficiently manage the airspace.

31-3-3. LOA COORDINATION

LOAs may require widespread coordination and approval. The LOA must be coordinated with the ATO Commercial Space POC (ATO POC). The ATO POC may disseminate the LOA to the following offices:

a. Launch or reentry operator.

b. All impacted air traffic facilities (including DOD as appropriate).

c. Air Traffic Service Area Office.

d. Flight Standards District Office.

e. When co-located at an airport, the Airport District office and the airport owner or manager.

f. ATCSCC/CARF.

g. AST.

31-3-4. NOTICE TO AIRMEN (NOTAM)

a. NOTAMs issued for space launch and reentry operations will be processed in accordance with current FAA directives.

b. The NOTAM must include the key words “airspace," “space launch," or “space reentry;" the launch or reentry site description, effective dates and times, and a chart depicting the area boundaries. It should also include a brief narrative describing the launch or reentry scenario, activities, types of launch or reentry vehicle involved, and the availability of inflight activity status information for nonparticipating pilots.

c. Information regarding the methods of airspace management may also be addressed.

31-3-5. LAUNCH AND REENTRY PROCESS

The operator must submit an application for a license or permit to AST. If an operator submits an application for a license or permit to an ATC facility, the ATC facility must direct the operator to submit its application directly to AST. AST has 180 days to evaluate a complete license application and 120 days to evaluate a complete permit application.

a. The process begins when an applicant contacts AST to initiate pre-application consultation. Consultation consists of one formal meeting and a number of follow-up telecons to exchange preliminary information.

1. If an applicant contacts an ATC facility regarding a launch or reentry operation, the ATC facility must direct the applicant to contact AST.

2. Once contacted, AST notifies the ATO POC of the upcoming meetings and provides the POC with basic information regarding the operation, including its planned location.

3. AST coordinates with the ATO POC throughout the pre-application process. The ATO POC coordinates with the local ATC facilities that may need to be involved.

4. The ATO POC assists AST in identifying other appropriate offices within the FAA (for example, Airports, Flight Standards) and external to the FAA (for example, DOD) that may need to be involved.

5. The ATO POC coordinates any issues within ATO as appropriate.

b. AST initiates an environmental review process.

1. AST provides any updated information from the environmental review to the ATO POC.

2. AST forwards any questions or comments from the ATO POC back to the applicant for resolution.

c. The applicant submits a formal, written application.

1. AST provides any updated information from the application to the ATO POC. The ATO POC coordinates with the local ATC facilities.

2. AST forwards any questions or comments from the ATO POC back to the applicant for resolution.

d. The applicant collaborates with the ATC facility to develop an LOA or modify an existing LOA, based on the guidance provided in paragraph 31-3-2 above.

e. AST evaluates the LOA to ensure that it meets 14 CFR 400 requirements.

f. A safety analysis of the proposed operation is conducted.

1. For a launch or reentry from a Federal range, the range's safety office generally conducts this analysis on behalf of the applicant. For a launch or reentry from a non-Federal site, AST conducts the analysis as part of its evaluation.

2. The analysis determines the size and location of the aircraft hazard area(s) and the time during which the hazard area(s) must remain clear of aircraft during both normal operations and in the event of a failure.

3. AST provides the analysis results and any other pertinent information to the ATO POC.

g. ATO (facilitv(s), ATCSCC) conducts an analysis of the impact to NAS of the proposed operation based on the results of the safety analysis.

h. ATO (facilitv(s), ATCSCC) develops an airspace management plan based on the safety analysis, the NAS impact analysis, and the local constraints.

1. When appropriate, various options for impact mitigation are developed.

2. The ATO POC works with AST to determine if potential mitigation actions may alter any safety analyses.

i. AST evaluates other parts of the application against the 14 CFR 400 requirements.

j. AST issues a license or permit based on its evaluation of the applicant's satisfaction of 14 CFR 400 requirements and the ATO's completion of the airspace management plan.

k. Prior to each operation, the local ATC facility reviews the airspace management plan, coordinates any needed adjustments, and coordinates any protected airspace required by the plan.

l. A NOTAM must be issued by the appropriate authority according to the guidance provided in paragraph 31-3-4 above to implement the airspace management plan and to inform users of the NAS of the planned activities.

 

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