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.

 

Appendix 8. FAA Special Use Airspace Environmental Processing Procedures

1. GENERAL.

This appendix provides guidance for FAA participation in the environmental review of proposed special use airspace (SUA) actions. The requirements in this appendix are in addition to the airspace proposal processing procedures contained in this order. The aeronautical and environmental processes for SUA proposals involve some overlap and the actions taken, or modifications made, to the proposal in one process may affect the actions required and/or the outcome of the other process.

2. BACKGROUND.

a. The SUA program is designed to accommodate national security requirements and military training activities wherein activities must be confined because of their nature, or wherein limitations are imposed upon aircraft operations.

b. SUA proposals are subject to both NEPA and aeronautical processing requirements. Since the FAA is the approval authority for SUA actions, the agency cannot make a final decision on any particular SUA proposal prior to the completion of the NEPA and aeronautical processing phases.

3. POLICIES.

The following policies apply to the processing of SUA proposals:

a. In addition to responsibilities of a cooperating agency as defined in 40 CFR Parts 1500-1508, FAA
must:

1. Provide to DOD information and technical expertise within the special expertise and jurisdiction of the FAA as it relates to the proposed action.

2. Resolve or respond to environmental issues raised during the NEPA process relating to aeronautical issues.

3. If an EA or EIS is required, identify and evaluate the environmental impacts relating to the proposal.

4. Furnish to DOD the names of organizations, agencies, or other parties the FAA believes may be interested in the DOD proposal.

5. Notify and coordinate FAA proposed airspace actions with DOD components that may be affected.

b. FAA Participation in NEPA Meetings. The FAA must participate in scoping, interagency, and public NEPA meetings conducted by the proponent. The Air Traffic Service Area Director (or the Director's Designee) with responsibility for Cooperating Agency participation will determine FAA representation in the meetings. When FAA personnel participate in such meetings:

1. The audience must be informed that FAA participation is to provide aeronautical technical expertise and is not to be construed as FAA endorsement or support of any SUA proposal, and that no decisions concerning the proposal will be made at the meeting.

2. If requested, the FAA will provide an overview of the procedures followed by the FAA for processing SUA proposals.

3. The FAA will advise the audience of the Service Area handling the processing of the aeronautical proposal. Additionally, the audience should be advised that written comments on the aeronautical aspects of the proposal should be submitted during the public comment period associated with the aeronautical circularization.

c. FAA NEPA Compliance Options. In accordance with CEQ regulations, the FAA must participate in the NEPA process as a cooperating agency. The FAA may adopt an EA or EIS prepared by DOD if the FAA independently evaluates the information in the document and takes full responsibility for the scope and content that addresses FAA actions. Where the proponent's NEPA documentation is insufficient, additional NEPA documentation will be required before the FAA can make a final decision. The FAA may ask the applicant to correct any deficiencies and re-submit the assessment if the FAA is not satisfied (see FAAO 1050.1E, “Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures," paragraph 203b). The FAA must issue its own FONSI and/or ROD. See FAAO 1050.1E, paragraphs 404d and 518h.

d. Time Limits for Final Environmental Impact Statements (EISs). If three years have expired following the approval of a final EIS, and major steps towards implementation have not commenced, a written reevaluation of the adequacy, accuracy, and validity of the final EIS must be prepared by the proponent. Written reevaluations must comply with the requirements set forth in FAAO 1050.1E, paragraph 515. The proponent may also elect to prepare new documentation if circumstances dictate.

4. LEAD AND COOPERATING AGENCIES.

The FAA/DOD MOU provides for the application of “lead agency" and “cooperating agency" responsibilities in the SUA environmental process. When the DOD is the proponent, the DOD will serve as lead agency for the evaluation of SUA environmental impacts and the preparation and processing of environmental documents.

a. The DOD, as lead agency, will determine whether an SUA proposal:

1. Is a major action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment requiring an environmental impact statement (EIS);

2. Requires an environmental assessment (EA); or,

3. Is categorically excluded in accordance with FAAO 1050.1E, paragraphs 307 through 311.

These determinations must be coordinated with the FAA at the earliest possible time to prevent delay in preparation of any required NEPA documentation.

b. The appropriate FAA Service Area, as identified in response to a request to participate, will act as the point of contact for Cooperating Agency status during the evaluation of the proposal's environmental study. FAA may use documents prepared by the proponent in its environmental process, provided the FAA has independently reviewed the scope and content of the documentation and assumes responsibility as described in subparagraph 3c, above. (See FAAO 1050.1E, paragraphs 404d and 518.)

c. Where the actions of one agency are subject to a categorical exclusion and the actions of the other agency with respect to the same SUA is not subject to a categorical exclusion, then the other agency will prepare the appropriate environmental documentation. The applicability of a categorical exclusion to parts of the action will be noted in the environmental document. FAA budget constraints may delay processing and implementation of a proponent's proposal when the categorical exclusion of the proponent is not listed in FAAO 1050.1E, Chapter 3.

5. SUA ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS.

In addition to other environmental considerations required under NEPA, CEQ regulations, and FAAO 1050.1E, the following are items the FAA expects to be considered, if applicable, in SUA environmental documents. This list should not be considered all-inclusive:

airapp8_Shape0 a. Other Times by NOTAM. When specified in the proposal, this provision permits access to the SUA area 24 hours per day. The environmental document must address the potential impact for use of the SUA during the “other times by NOTAM" period.

b. Flares and Chaff. Address the potential impact of flare and/or chaff use when this activity is specified in the SUA proposal.

c. “No Action Alternative." Include discussion of this alternative.

d. Coastal Zone Consistency Determination. Include if applicable.

e. Proposed Airspace Parameters. The environmental analysis in the EA or EIS for the SUA proposal must match the airspace parameters contained in the SUA proposal (i.e., boundaries, altitudes, times of use, and type and extent of activities).

f. Non-participating Aircraft. Include a discussion of the effect of the SUA proposed action on non-participating aircraft, if applicable.

g. Mitigation. As defined in CEQ regulations, mitigation includes:

1. Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action;

2. Minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation;

3. Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment;

4. Reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action; and

5. Compensating for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments.

h. Cumulative Impacts. Cumulative impacts on the environment are those that result from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or Non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time.

i. Consultation. Consultation must be conducted in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106; the Endangered Species Act, Section 7; FAAO 1210.20

“American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Consultation Policy and Procedures," and other applicable
laws, regulations, and Department of Transportation and FAA Orders.

6. INTERAGENCY SUA ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING MEETING.

To facilitate early coordination between the FAA and the DOD proponent, the DOD proponent must make a request to the FAA for Cooperating Agency status as soon as the proponent decides to initiate the environmental process.

When the FAA is invited to participate as a cooperating agency, it is suggested that a planning meeting be held as soon as practical. The agenda of the meeting should be based on the type of SUA proposal, the extent of the planned environmental analysis.

a. The appropriate Regional Military Representative (Milrep) will coordinate the proponent's request for a planning meeting with the appropriate Service Area Director (or their designee). Representatives of the FAA, the proponent, and the proponent's NEPA consultant, if any, should be invited to participate by the military representative.

b. The meeting should include discussion of pertinent issues, including but not limited to:

1. The type of SUA proposal to be submitted,

2. Identification of points-of-contact and establishment of liaison between concerned parties,

3. Determination of the appropriate type of environmental documentation,

4. The appropriate extent of FAA participation,

5. Identification of potentially significant impacts,

6. Consideration of the need for scoping, interagency, and/or other public meetings,

7. Setting processing milestones,

8. Clarifying any questions the proponent may have regarding the FAA's requirements for the environmental analysis and documentation; and,

9. Exchange of information on any environmental and/or aeronautical concerns in the area of potential effect.

c. At the meeting, the Service Area airspace representative should:

1. Brief attendees on the airspace processing procedures in Part 5. of this order that will apply to the SUA proposal.

2. Encourage the proponent to work proactively with aviation user groups and individuals to address aeronautical issues as they arise. This should ensure early consideration of aeronautical mitigation.

d. At the meeting, the Service Area environmental representative should:

1. Brief attendees on the environmental processing procedures in FAAO 1050.1E and Chapter 32 of this order that apply to the SUA proposal.

2. Encourage the proponent to work proactively with other Federal, State, and Local agencies; Tribal Governments; and the public on environmental concerns as they arise. This will ensure that mitigation to address environmental concerns is considered early in the process.

3. Advise attendees that the FAA cannot render a final determination on the environmental effects of the SUA proposal until after completion of the proponent's environmental process, the FAA's aeronautical process, the FAA's independent review of the proponent's environmental documentation, and any additional environmental analyses conducted by the FAA.

e. The meeting format may be tailored to the needs of the specific proposal. It may be conducted by a teleconference, if permitted by the scope of the proposal or if necessary due to funding or other constraints.

f. Additional meetings should be scheduled as needed to discuss changes, revise milestones, share updated environmental and/or aeronautical impact data or public comments, discuss alteration of the proposal in order to mitigate valid aeronautical objections, incorporate agreements by the proponent to mitigate environmental impacts, or discuss other matters.

7. RELATIONSHIPS AND TIMING OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND AERONAUTICAL PROCESSES.

a. SUA proposals are subject to both environmental and aeronautical processing requirements. These processes are separate but closely related. Any actions by a proponent to mitigate environmental impacts, and/or changes to the proposal to address valid aeronautical objections, may alter the type and extent of environmental analysis required.

b. Normally, the SUA proponent will initiate the environmental process well in advance of submitting an actual SUA proposal to the FAA for review. The appropriate Milrep should inform the appropriate Service Area as soon as possible after receiving notice that a DOD proponent plans to initiate the environmental study process. A letter requesting FAA participation in the environmental study process as a Cooperating Agency should be forwarded to the Director of the Office of Mission Support, Airspace Services, at FAA Headquarters.

c. Proponents should submit SUA proposals to the FAA Service Area prior to completion of the NEPA process. This will enable the FAA to initiate the aeronautical processing phase prior to completion of any required NEPA documents, which will facilitate the earlier consideration of aeronautical factors that may result in modification of the proposal and may affect the environmental analysis. In all cases, the FAA will defer a final decision on the proposal until the required NEPA process is completed.

d. During the aeronautical processing of a proposal with alternatives, only the alternative submitted to the FAA in accordance with Part 5. of this order will be subjected to the aeronautical process described in this order (i.e., non-rulemaking circularization or Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)) by the FAA. However, all reasonable alternatives, including the alternative of no action, must be evaluated in the environmental document.

8. SERVICE AREA PROCEDURES.

a. Normally, FAA participation in the SUA environmental process will begin at the headquarters level with a request by the proponent of an SUA proposal for the FAA to participate in the process as a Cooperating Agency. However, the FAA point of contact will generally be a representative from the Air Traffic Organization at the Service Area level. Close coordination is required between the Service Area Airspace Specialist and Environmental Specialist throughout the process. This will ensure that FAA concerns are provided to the proponent for consideration, and that NEPA and DOT/FAA environmental requirements are met.

b. Once notified of the initiation of the environmental process by the SUA proponent, the Service Area environmental specialist should request that the proponent provide a minimum of five copies of all preliminary, draft, and final environmental documents for FAA review. The Service Area environmental specialist will forward three copies of the documents to FAA Headquarters (Mission Support, Airspace Services, Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group or Airspace Management Group).

c. To the extent practicable, the Service Area should provide FAA representation at pre-scoping, scoping, and/or other NEPA public meetings concerning the SUA proposal. If requested by the Service Area, representation from the headquarters Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group and/or Airspace Management Groups will be provided.

d. Service Area Airspace Specialist Responsibilities:

1. Coordinate requests from the Milrep to schedule an interagency SUA environmental planning meeting with the Service Area Director (or the Director's designee) and the environmental specialist.

2. Participate in interagency SUA environmental planning meetings as directed, by the Service Area Director (or the Director's designee). (See paragraph 6, above.)

3. Participate in pre-scoping, scoping and/or other public meetings as directed.

4. Provide information and assistance as required to the proponent regarding the aeronautical aspects of the proposal and processing procedures under Part 5. of this order.

5. Coordinate with and assist the environmental specialist in the review of environmental documents to ensure consideration of pertinent aeronautical issues. Compare the SUA proposal parameters with the analysis in the environmental document to ensure that the analysis is consistent with the proponent's airspace request. Provide corrections and/or comments to the environmental specialist for transmittal to the proponent.

6. Maintain liaison with the proponent's environmental team to determine if any comments received pertain to aeronautical issues; provide information regarding the aeronautical aspects of alternatives developed by the proponent.

7. Provide to the proponent aeronautical impact information obtained from the formal aeronautical study conducted in accordance with Chapter 21 of this order and during the aeronautical public comment period. As required, negotiate with the proponent to modify the proposal to mitigate valid aeronautical objections or adverse aeronautical impact.

8. Upon receipt of the SUA proposal, initiate processing in accordance with Part 5. of this order.

(a). Determine if an Informal Airspace Meeting will be held in accordance with the procedures in Part 5. of this order. If a meeting is planned, request participation by the proponent to explain and answer questions about the proposal.

Note:

Informal Airspace Meetings are optional for SUA proposals. Normally, they are held only if the Service Area determines that there is a need to obtain additional aeronautical facts and information relevant to the SUA proposal under study. Informal airspace meetings may also be held based on known or anticipated controversy of the proposal.

(b). Complete the appropriate rulemaking or non-rulemaking processing requirements as defined in Part 5. of this order.

9. In consultation with the Service Area environmental specialist and the Regional Counsel, review the proponent's decision document to ensure that it is consistent with any modifications made to the SUA proposal, if applicable, and that any agreed upon aeronautical mitigation measures are included.

10. If the Service Area airspace specialist recommends approval of the SUA proposal, submit the completed proposal package to the Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group for final review and determination. The Airspace Management Group will receive the SUA package from the Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group for review of any environmental documentation.

e. Service Area Environmental Specialist Responsibilities.

1. Coordinate as required with the Service Area Airspace Specialist regarding SUA matters.

2. Notify the Airspace Management Group when informed of scheduled interagency SUA environmental planning meetings. Participate in such meetings as directed by the Service Area Director (or the Director's designee) (see paragraph 6 above).

3. Provide information as required to the SUA proponent regarding FAA environmental requirements and concerns.

4. In coordination with the Service Area Airspace Specialist, review the SUA proponent's environmental documents to ensure that applicable impact categories and any specific FAA environmental concerns are considered. After each review, forward any corrections and FAA comments to the proponent.

5. Review the proponent's final document to assess whether it meets the standards for an adequate document under NEPA, the CEQ regulations, DOT Order 5610.1C, and FAAO 1050.1E. Following consultation with the Regional Counsel, determine if the FAA considers the document adequate for adoption. Provide documentation of the results of this review and a recommendation regarding FAA adoption to the Airspace Management Group.

6. If the proponent takes the position that a categorical exclusion (CATEX) applies to an SUA proposal:

(a). Determine if FAA Order 1050.1E, Chapter 3, Advisory and Emergency Actions and Categorical Exclusions, lists the CATEX. Verify that no extraordinary circumstances exist that would preclude use of the CATEX for the SUA proposal. Determine what additional environmental analysis would be required if the CATEX is not listed.

(b). Document the results of the review in subparagraph (a) above, and submit the findings to the Airspace Management Group.

7. Retain the administrative record in accordance with FAA retention guidelines. If DOD is the lead agency for the proposed project, a copy of relevant documents in its administrative record should be obtained and included in the FAA record.

9. Mission Support, Airspace Services, AIRSPACE MANAGEMENT GROUP PROCEDURES:

a. Review the proponent's environmental document(s) to verify that the analysis matches the parameters specified in the SUA aeronautical proposal and that any required environmental issues are considered. Conduct this review simultaneously with the Service Area's review as described in paragraph 8. Provide corrections and identify deficiencies to the Service Area Airspace and/or Environmental Specialist for transmittal to the proponent.

b. The Airspace Management Group must review the proponent's environmental documents for content and compliance with NEPA, CEQ regulations, and applicable DOT and FAA Orders. Coordinate with the Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group as needed, regarding concerns, corrections, or other comments on aeronautical impacts. Provide FAA Headquarters comments to the Service Area Environmental Specialist for transmittal to the proponent.

c. Provide concurrent assistance and policy guidance regarding SUA environmental processing to the Service Area environmental specialist upon request.

d. Coordinate with the Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group as needed for additional information concerning the SUA proposal and aeronautical impact matters.

e. Review the proponent's Final EIS or EA/Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), and the Service Area environmental specialists' comments regarding compliance with NEPA, CEQ, and applicable DOT and FAA requirements. Determine if the document is suitable for adoption by the FAA. Prepare FAA adoption memorandum and provide a copy to the Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group for inclusion in the airspace docket or case file.

f. Review the proponent's and Service Area environmental specialist's comments regarding applicability of a categorical exclusion. If the categorical exclusion does not apply, determine if additional environmental analysis is required. Consider if categorical exclusion documentation is required in accordance with FAAO 1050.1E, Paragraph 305. Provide a copy of the determination to Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group for inclusion in the airspace docket or case file.

g. As appropriate, coordinate with the FAA Office of the Chief Counsel, Airports and Environmental Law Division. See, e.g. FAAO 1050.1E paragraphs 214d, 304i, 404e, 508a, and 509a.

h. Prepare a separate FAA FONSI and/or Record of Decision (ROD) if circumstances dictate. Provide a copy to the Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group for inclusion in the airspace docket or case file.

i. In the case of rulemaking SUA actions, assist the Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group by preparing the statement to be included in the ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW sections of the NPRM and the Final Rule. In the case of non-rulemaking SUA actions, prepare the FONSI/ROD for the airspace case file for the non-rulemaking documentation and notify the public in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1E, Paragraph 512e.

10. Mission Support, Airspace Services, AIRSPACE REGULATIONS AND ATC PROCEDURES GROUP:

a. Upon receipt at headquarters, review the proponent's environmental document(s) from an airspace/aeronautical impact perspective to verify that the environmental analysis matches the parameters specified in the SUA proposal and that any required aeronautical issues are considered. Conduct this review simultaneously with the Service Area aeronautical review as described in paragraph 8, above.

b. Ensure that the Service Area airspace specialist provided a copy of the proposal, including any environmental documentation, to the Service Area environmental specialist.

c. Coordinate with the Airspace Management Group, as required, to discuss the environmental analysis of the proposal.

d. Submit all SUA NPRMs, final rules, and non-rulemaking airspace determinations to the Airspace Management Group for coordination prior to issuance.

e. Insert the following statement in the environmental review section of SUA NPRMs:

“This proposal will be subject to appropriate environmental impact analysis by the FAA prior to any final FAA regulatory action."

f. Consult with the Airspace Management Group to draft the text for the ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW section for SUA final rules. In the case of rulemaking SUA actions, assist the Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group by preparing the statement to be included in the ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW sections of the NPRM and the Final Rule. In the case of non-rulemaking SUA actions, prepare the FONSI/ROD for the airspace case file for the non-rulemaking documentation and notify the public in accordance with FAAO 1050.1E, Paragraph 512e.

Note:

For “Direct-to-Final-Rule" actions which are categorically excluded under FAAO 1050.1E, the following statement may be inserted in the environmental review section of the Final Rule:

“This action is categorically excluded under FAAO 1050.1E, “Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures," Paragraph (insert Paragraph Number). Therefore, this action is not subject to further environmental review."

g. Coordinate with the Airspace Management Group to determine the status of FAA adoption of the proponent's environmental document(s). Obtain a copy of FAA adoption documentation for inclusion in the rulemaking docket file or non-rulemaking airspace case file.

h. Complete final airspace processing requirements in accordance with Part 5. of this order, including the final determination on the airspace request. In all cases the FAA must not issue a final decision until after the NEPA process is completed; the FAA has adopted the proponent's EIS or EA, as applicable; and any additional FAA environmental requirements are satisfied. 

 
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