JO 7400.2K
Effective Date:
April 3, 2014

Subject:  Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters


Chapter 32. Environmental Matters

Section 1. General Information

32-1-1. PURPOSE

This section provides guidance and establishes policy and procedures to assist air traffic personnel in applying the requirements of FAAO 1050.1E, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures, to proposed air traffic actions. The guidance in this chapter will assist air traffic personnel in determining the level of environmental study appropriate for a proposed action and in preparing the required environmental documentation.

The policies and procedures set forth in this chapter are intended to supplement the requirements of FAAO 1050.1E and other Department of Transportation and FAA directives.

Further, this chapter outlines the approach for considering environmental issues and helps reduce the complexity of the review process, while ensuring that the environmental process associated with proposed air traffic actions is thoroughly and properly documented.

32-1-2. POLICY

It is air traffic policy to use an interdisciplinary approach to assure compliance with all environmental laws and regulations. This policy requires that all projects be reviewed as early as possible to determine if there is the potential for impact to the quality of the human environment. All units of the Air Traffic Terminal, En Route and Oceanic, and Mission Support Service Units must adhere to the requirements in FAAO 1050.1E.

In addition, all units must comply with the guidelines and directions detailed in this chapter whenever reviewing regulatory and nonregulatory airspace actions.


a. FAAO 1050.1E establishes policies and procedures and assigns responsibility for assuring FAA compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), the implementing regulations issued by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), the Department of Transportation (DOT) Order 5610.1, FAAO 1050.1E, and other related statutes and directives.

b. The complexity of environmental issues associated with some air traffic activities necessitates a systematic and uniform approach to the environmental review process. This process must assess all impacts, as well as provide the data for preparing the necessary documentation.

c. FAAO 1050.1E provides the overall procedures and guidance for the FAA's environmental responsibilities. It is the intent of this chapter to complement, and not repeat in its entirety, what is already contained in FAAO 1050.1E. However, there are issues addressed in FAAO 1050.1E that require further detail for air traffic or additional emphasis to ensure they are properly addressed.

This chapter is designed to address these unique actions (i.e., special use airspace proposals) and provide the additional detail necessary for air traffic to conduct an adequate environmental review.


The Approving Official for Environmental Assessments (EAs), Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSIs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) is the FAA official with signature authority for these documents. The FAA official with signature authority to approve a Record of Decision (ROD) is the decision-maker (see Order 1100.154A, Delegation of Authority).

a. The air traffic Facility Manager has signature authority for memoranda related to administrative actions listed in FAAO 1050.1E, paragraph 200e(4) and advisory actions discussed in FAAO 1050.1E, paragraphs 200e(1) and 301.

b. The Air Traffic Organization Terminal and En Route and Oceanic Operations Service Area Directors have signature authority for Categorical Exclusions (CATEXs), EAs, FONSIs, EISs, and RODs which are exclusively within the scope of a single Service Area, and may delegate this authority to a Manager within that Service Area. For Special Use Airspace (SUA) actions that require approval at the Headquarters level, the associated environmental document also requires approval and signature at the Headquarters level.

The Terminal Service Area is responsible for air traffic NEPA compliance for proposed actions within the jurisdiction of a terminal Air Traffic Control (ATC) facility.

The En Route and Oceanic Service Area is responsible for air traffic NEPA compliance for proposed actions not associated with an ATC terminal facility. Additionally, the En Route and Oceanic Service Area will be designated as the point of contact for the establishment or modification of SUA or Military Training Routes (MTRs) when requested by another Federal agency.

When a proposed action requires involvement by both the Terminal and En Route and Oceanic Service Area, the Terminal Service Area will be the lead entity for NEPA compliance.

c. The Terminal and/or En Route and Oceanic Service Unit Vice Presidents have signature authority to sign EAs, FONSIs, EISs, and RODs that are beyond the scope of authority of a single Service Area.

d. The Mission Support, Airspace Services, Airspace Management Group is responsible for coordinating environmental processes that cross Service Area boundaries.


The order of delegated authority for air traffic environmental processes is as follows:

a. Mission Support, Airspace Services, Airspace Management Group. The Airspace Management Group has been delegated authority to direct and implement environmental policy and procedures for air traffic actions. It must design and initiate training programs to educate air traffic personnel in Headquarters, in the Terminal and En Route and Oceanic Service Areas and in air traffic field facilities on environmental laws, regulations, policies, and processes related to the implementation or revision of air traffic airspace and procedures.

The Airspace Management Group must direct and implement training for air traffic Environmental Specialists in the use of noise modeling tools (see subparagraph 32-1-5.b., Terminal and En Route and Oceanic Service Units and Service Areas). Additionally, the Airspace Management Group must serve as the air traffic focal point for the Headquarters Environmental Network chaired by the Office of Environment and Energy (AEE).

b. Terminal and En Route and Oceanic Service Units and Areas. The Vice Presidents of the Terminal and En Route and Oceanic Service Units have the final responsibility for ensuring that all appropriate environmental documentation within their area of jurisdiction is prepared accurately and completely.

The Terminal and En Route and Oceanic Service Area Directors must be responsible for designating at least one person to serve as the Environmental Specialist within their Service Area to address air traffic environmental issues. Funding for training associated with the duties of the Environmental Specialist must also be the responsibility of the Service Area Director (or the Director's designee).

In addition, the Service Area Director (or their designees) must appoint a representative to serve as the focal point for their Service Area on the AEE Environmental Network. The representative must coordinate any environmental activity in their Service Area with the Airspace Management Group, as appropriate.

The Service Area Directors must ensure that the Environmental Specialist attends the following training, as soon as practicable after their appointment to the position: 1) FAA Academy Course #12000, Introduction to NEPA Requirements and Procedures (or an equivalent); 2) FAA Academy Course #50019, Airspace and Procedures (or an equivalent); 3) Community Involvement; 4) Integrated Noise Model (INM); and, 5) Noise Integrated Routing System (NIRS). Recurrent training to supplement these minimums should be provided, as appropriate.

c. Service Area Environmental Specialist.

1. The Service Area Environmental Specialist is responsible for reviewing environmental studies and forwarding written concurrence to the air traffic facilities originating any environmental documentation.

2. The Service Area Environmental Specialist must provide guidance in and oversee the preparation of the air traffic initial environmental reviews (see Appendix 4). The Service Area Environmental Specialist is responsible for the preparation of CATEXs, EAs, EISs, Letters of Adoption, and Written Reevaluations for air traffic actions.

3. The Service Area Environmental Specialist is responsible for preparation of FONSIs and RODs for air traffic actions.

4. The Service Area Environmental Specialist must coordinate requests for training by personnel within their Service Areas with the Airspace Management Group.

5. The Service Area Environmental Specialist must review NEPA documentation initiated by the Technical Service Areas. In addition, the Service Area Environmental Specialist must cooperate with Airport District Offices or the Airport Division, within their jurisdiction, on the preparation of NEPA documents and Federal Aviation Regulation Part 150 studies undertaken by these offices. Review and comments by the Service Area Environmental Specialist must be directed to those matters affecting the operation of the air traffic program. Comments must be forwarded to the appropriate Airports Program office. The Service Area Environmental Specialist may also be requested to attend public meetings or hearings to provide support to the Facility, Service Area, or other lines of business convening the meeting or hearing.

6. The Service Area Environmental Specialist must act as the FAA environmental point of contact when another Federal agency (e.g., Department of Defense (DOD)) requests FAA participation as a Cooperating Agency on air traffic or airspace actions.

When a request for Cooperating Agency status is received from the DOD related to Special Use Airspace (SUA), a copy of Appendix 2 and Appendix 3, (flow charts for SUA environmental and aeronautical non-rulemaking and rulemaking actions, respectively) along with a copy of Appendix 4 (a summary of FAA procedures for processing DOD SUA actions), will be attached to the response. A copy of the response, which will also identify the Service Area environmental point of contact, will be provided to the appropriate Service Area.

Additionally, the Service Area Environmental Specialist must review other agencies' environmental documentation when applicable (e.g., when the FAA is considering adopting the environmental documentation).

7. In the case of SUA actions, the Service Area Environmental Specialist must review environmental studies in accordance with paragraph 32-2-3.

8. The Service Area Environmental Specialists must coordinate with each other and with their counterparts in other agencies, as appropriate.

d. Air Route Traffic Control Center (Center), Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), and Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) Facility Managers.

1. Center, TRACON, and ATCT Facility Managers must be responsible for ensuring that all appropriate environmental documentation for proposed air traffic actions within their jurisdiction is prepared accurately and completely. These managers are responsible for recommending to the Service Area Environmental Specialist the appropriate level of environmental study.

For actions other than Advisory or Emergency Actions (as defined in FAAO 1050.1E), the Facility Manager must ensure that, at a minimum, the Air Traffic Initial Environmental Review (IER) (see Appendix 5) is prepared and submitted to the Terminal or En Route and Oceanic Service Area Environmental Specialist along with the proposed action (see paragraph 32-2-1.a., Determination of Appropriate Environmental Documentation). Under some limited circumstances, the Service Area Environmental Specialist may waive the need for completion of the IER by substituting an appropriate level of documentation (i.e., memorandum to the file).

The ATCT Manager should be involved early in the design phase of a proposal to ensure that a full understanding of tower/airport operations is included in the alternatives development. The ATCT Manager is responsible for ensuring that information provided to the Center, and/or TRACON is complete and accurate.

The Facility Managers must also be responsible for designating at least one facility staff specialist within their scope of operations to address environmental issues. The facility specialist may be required to perform his/her environmental duties on a full-time or collateral basis. The decision about the need for a full-time Environmental Specialist at a field facility must be made by the Facility Manager.

The Facility Managers must ensure that the specialist who performs environmental duties on a full-time basis attends the training specified in paragraph 32-1-5.b., Responsibilities, and numbered 1., 2., and 3., as soon as practicable. The INM and NIRS training are also recommended, but are not mandatory.

In addition, where other facilities have, or are authorized to have, an operations specialist (i.e., Plans and Programs Specialist, Procedure Specialists), to conduct environmental activities as a collateral duty, it is recommended that these specialists attend the above-referenced training.

2. The Facility Managers must ensure that their facility is represented at Airport Program and other line of business NEPA and Airport Program Part 150 process meetings where decisions rendered could affect air traffic operations in their area of responsibility. The Facility Managers must cooperate fully with operating divisions, airport sponsors, and contract support personnel in the environmental review processes. Additionally, air traffic attendance at these meetings does not necessarily constitute air traffic endorsement or sanction of the proposed action.

NEPA documents and FAR Part 150 studies must receive thorough review at the facility level. Review and comments on Airport Program documents must be directed to those matters that affect the operation of the air traffic program. Facility comments must be forwarded to the Service Area Environmental Specialist, not more than 15 days after receipt of the document or study. (Requests for longer periods of review must be coordinated with the Service Area Environmental Specialist on an as-needed basis.) Prior to a facility submitting comments directly to other operating divisions, or airport sponsors, the facility point of contact must discuss the issues with the Service Area Environmental Specialist.

Facility Managers (or their designees) must not make or recommend a proposed flight track, route or air traffic flow as a preferred action for the sole purpose of noise abatement. They may, however, indicate if the proposed action is operationally feasible or safe (within the context of aircraft separation standards). The airport sponsor (operator) is solely responsible for the recommendation of noise abatement procedures.

3. The field facility is responsible for preparing the IER with supporting noise screening results and recommending a CATEX, an EA or an EIS for new or revised air traffic procedures, or airspace modifications. After completion of the IER, the originating facility must forward the recommendation for a CATEX, EA or EIS along with all the supporting documentation to the Service Area Environmental Specialist for review and approval. The Service Area Environmental Specialist must then prepare the Categorical Exclusion Declaration (if appropriate) for signature by the Service Area Director (or the Director's designee).


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