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. Environmental Impact Categories and Other Topics

Appendix A of FAAO 1050.1E, “Analysis of Environmental Impact Categories" summarizes the requirements and procedures for environmental impact analyses according to the resource impact category. Executive Orders, DOT and FAA Orders, and memoranda and guidance documents described in Appendix C of FAAO 1050.1E may also contain requirements that apply.

Although all resource impact categories may receive the same level of review and analysis, the actual level of detail of review and analysis for a particular resource is dependent upon the potential for impact. The following paragraphs address those impact categories that may be required as part of the environmental review for proposed air traffic actions.


Air Traffic personnel need to consult with all appropriate Federal, state and local officials having jurisdiction over an affected Section 4(f) resource when determining whether project-related noise impacts would constitute a use of that resource.

FAAO 1050.1E, Appendix A, Section 6, provides guidance on matters relevant to Section 4(f). (See also Appendix 9, “Noise Policy for Management of Airspace Over Federally Managed Lands.")


Air Traffic personnel need to know the process and requirements for environmental justice compliance.

DOT Order 5610.2, Environmental Justice, requires analysis of impacts of proposed FAA actions to ensure that minority and low-income population groups are not disproportionately affected. Additionally, FAAO 1050.1E, Appendix A, Section 16, summarizes the requirements and procedures to be used in environmental impact analysis related to environmental justice, as well as other socioeconomic impacts and children's environmental health and safety risks.

Facilities should identify who benefits and who is adversely affected by the proposed actions, while noting impacts on specific subgroups.


Air Traffic personnel need to ensure that the FAA fulfills the spirit and the letter of NEPA, and that the environmental process is efficient and legally sufficient. Community involvement at the earliest possible time in developing alternatives is essential in the preparation of an EIS and, where appropriate, for an EA. The Service Area Directors (or their designee) must ensure that the community involvement process is coordinated appropriately during the alternatives development process for proposed modification to air traffic airspace and/or procedures (see FAAO 1050.1E, paragraphs 208 and 209, and the FAA's “Community Involvement Policy” statement in Appendix 10 of this order).


Air Traffic personnel must ensure that cumulative impacts are appropriately addressed in all EAs or EISs for air traffic actions. Cumulative impacts are those that result from the incremental impact of an action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, regardless of what agency (Federal and non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts may result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time. (See FAAO 1050.1E, paragraph 405f(1)(c), and also “Considering Cumulative Effects Under the National Environmental Policy Act (1997).”)


Although there are other actions that may be initiated by Air Traffic to make changes in airspace and/or procedures, the following two categories are currently the largest. They have the potential to affect a number of field facilities and require the involvement of additional personnel in the environmental review process.

a. Performance-Based Navigation (RNAV/RNP by GPS/FMS Equipped Aircraft).

The significant number of changes to airspace, route structures, and instrument approach and departure procedures precipitated by aircraft equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) and Flight Management System (FMS) capabilities has the potential to cause a significant increase in actions affecting the environment.

Among these navigation systems are several concepts. For brevity, only two of these concepts will be addressed here; Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP).

RNAV is a method of navigation that enables aircraft to fly on any desired flight path within the coverage of specific navigational aids (NAVAIDS) or within the capable limits of a self-contained system. RNAV can also be a combination of capabilities from a self-contained system and specific NAVAIDS.

RNP refers to RNAV operations that provide navigation containment and have flight monitoring capabilities.

The added flexibility and proliferation of these navigation systems has the potential to affect the human environment. This is due, in part to the introduction of instrument flight rules procedures not previously applied to low altitude aircraft operations, and the anticipated reduction in separation standards. It is imperative to fully examine and document the environmental impact of each step in the RNAV and RNP development process.

b. Airspace Management Program (AMP).

The AMP is a program developed to review the design of all national airspace resources to ensure effective and efficient management of the national airspace system (NAS). The goals of the AMP are to:

1. Increase system flexibility, predictability, and access;

2. Maintain and improve system safety;

3. Improve efficiency and reduce delays; and

4. Support the evolution of emerging technologies.

Projects related to the AMP generally involve large-scale airspace changes that include multiple airports and terminal radar areas. It is generally the environmental process associated with these larger scale airspace changes that require completion of the Initial Environmental Review with associated noise screening and funding at the headquarters level. Periodically there are other airspace changes, which may be related to larger-scale AMP projects but may only involve a single airport.


Records retention must be in accordance with the appropriate paragraph(s) in FAAO 1350.15, Records Organization, Transfer, and Destruction Standards.

Although chapter 10 of FAAO 1350.15 contains Air Traffic-specific information, guidance for retention of environmental documentation is contained in that portion of the order specific to the Airports Division.

Environmental record-keeping should receive special attention at the field facility level. If an action requires preparation of an EA or an EIS, the Service Area Environmental Specialist must maintain the Administrative File. The Administrative File is important in the environmental process because it is a compilation of all the information relied upon by FAA in the decision-making process.

Since some environmental projects may extend over several years, the Administrative File becomes a history of events. In the event of a legal challenge, the Administrative File will be used to develop the Administrative Record. The Administrative Record will be reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals to determine if the FAA complied with the requirements of NEPA. The data and documentation contained in the File can also be used as the starting point for any follow-on environmental studies.

Field facility personnel must consult with their Service Area Environmental Specialist to obtain guidance on what should or should not become part of the Administrative File. Regional counsel or AGC-620, as appropriate, should also be consulted on this. Federal court rules provide that when an FAA action is challenged in court, the agency has 40 days to compile the Administrative Record, make necessary copies, and file an index to the Record with the court. Therefore, it is preferable to begin development of the Administrative Record by maintaining an accurate Administrative File from the earliest stages of a project, instead of waiting until a lawsuit is filed.


a. Appendix 1. Environmental Study Process Flow Chart.

b. Appendix 2. Special Use Airspace Aeronautical Processing Flow Chart

c. Appendix 3. Special Use Airspace Environmental Processing Flow Chart

d. Appendix 4. FAA Procedures for Processing SUA Actions Summary Table

e. Appendix 5. Air Traffic Initial Environmental Review (IER)

f. Appendix 6. Sample Categorical Exclusion Declaration.

g. Appendix 7. FAA/DOD Memorandum of Understanding.

h. Appendix 8. FAA Special Use Airspace Environmental Processing Procedures.

i. Appendix 9. Noise Policy for Management of Airspace Over Federally Managed Lands.

j. Appendix 10. Community Involvement Policy.


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